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Federico Rampini – East and West, 2,500 years of history getting to know each other: Have we succeeded? | 10.23.2020

A virtual encounter with renowned journalist Federico Rampini for the 20th Week of the Italian Language.

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East and West, the Orient vs the Occident, Masses vs Individuals. On one side there is the power of “the collective”, and also spirituality, the quiet fascination of ancient civilizations. On the other side there is “our” individualism and materialism, as well as our noisy and chaotic democracies.

Federico Rampini is a “global nomad”, born in Italy, he has lived most of his life in America and in Asia. As a writer-reporter he explores the cultural roots of the polarization between East and West. He guides us in a travel through history, in order to understand where we are today, including in our divergent responses to the pandemic.

East or West: which one makes you dream? Or scares you?

This is a story that began with a war between the ancient Greece and Persia, with Alexander the Great and the Emperors ruling what we now call the Middle East. Two and a half millennia ago we started shaping our visions of the world in terms of a duality East-West. We imagined the Orient as a vast land dominated by authoritarian empires. This concept continued to inspire Karl Marx as well as other thinkers in the XIX century, when they wrote about “Asian dispotism”. It’s a mind frame that we are using today when we speak about Xi Jinping or Erdogan.

When did we start thinking of Asia as the cradle of religions, whereas the West is secular? Is this a myth? Is it still true today?

For more than twenty centuries we tried hard to discover each other, or to fight, or to seduce and influence each other. Depending on who was the dominant power, the other tried to copy and catch up. China, India, Japan are some of the civilizations discussed in this essay; as well as the evolution of gender roles.

The legacy of history is even more important today, as we must adapt to a new “Asian Century”, and some countries in the Far East seem to have reacted more effectively to the pandemic. Why did it happen? Confucian values have been mentioned as one factor. Unfortunately, we as Westerners know so little about Confucius… Federico Rampini’s book and presentation offers an opportunity to fill some of our knowledge gaps.

Federico Rampini, journalist and writer, public speaker and playwright, was born in Genoa in 1956.
Since 2009 he has lived in New York where he is a columnist and US Bureau Chief for the newspaper La Repubblica. As a White House correspondent, he travels regularly with the President of the United States and covers international summits: G7, G20, ASEAN.
Until July 2009 he was the China correspondent of La Repubblica, having inaugurated the new Beijing Bureau in 2004. As a special envoy for Asia, and a columnist on the global economy, he covered India, Japan, Southeast Asia, Korea.
From 2000 to 2004 he was West Coast Correspondent and columnist for the global economy of La Repubblica in San Francisco, from that observatory he recounted the first boom of the digital economy.
From 1997 to 2000 he was the European editor of La Republicca, covering the launch of the single currency in Brussels and Frankfurt.
From 1986 to 1995 he was correspondent in Paris and deputy director of the Sole-24 Ore.
He has published more than twenty essays, many of which have appeared in the charts of best-selling books in Italy. Among his latest works: “The Red Lines – Men, Empires, Borders: geographical maps tell the world in which we live” (Mondadori 2017), “When our History Begins” (Mondadori, 2018), “The Ocean in Between “(Laterza, 2019),” The Second Cold War “(Mondadori, 2019),”East and West – Mass and individual”(Einaudi 2020).
Among his essays translated into other languages are the best-sellers “The Chinese Century” (Mondadori 2005), “The Empire of Chindia” (Mondadori 2006), “The Shadow of Mao” (Mondadori 2008).
He was Visiting Professor at the University of Berkeley, California; and at the Shanghai University of Economics and Finance. He has held seminars and webinars at the SDA-Bocconi Business School in Milan.
He is a member of the New York-Washington Council on Foreign Relations.
He collaborated with the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership in the organization of the “Congress of Vienna 2015”.He is often called as a speaker at American universities (Columbia, Berkeley, Penn State, Wharton Business School, Wellesley College, Baruch University) and at the Asia Society of New York.
He has created and performed several theatrical plays, including “Far West – I’ll tell you about our future”; “All You Need Is Love”; “Trump Blues or the Age of Chaos” which had its premiere at the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in July 2017.
He created a six-part television documentary program for RaiStoria, entitled “Geostorie”.


Date: Friday, October 23, 2020

Time: At 6:00 pm (CST)

Organized by : Consulate General of Italy in Houston

In collaboration with : IIC Los Angeles

Entrance : Free