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“There isn't a future without culture both on Earth and in space”
Professor Olimpia Niglio, Asgardia’s Minister of Culture, holds substantial expertise in cultural heritage of the East and West, as well as aspects of comparative art history, architecture, and art management. Now she is ready to offer her knowledge to the people of the first Space Nation, Asgardia. In an interview with Asgardia Space News, Professor Niglio shares plans and goals for the Asdardian Ministry of Culture.
Professor Niglio, could you please specify some of the first steps you plan to take as the Minister of Culture?
It’s an honor to make this important commitment to the Space Nation of Asgardia. I hope to build the cultural policy for the Asgardian community and for our nation. In these past weeks, I’ve been reflecting on different issues, and I think it is very important to start by defining the meaning of the word “culture.” For this reason, I came up with seven points, one for each letter of the word:
C Cooperation and sharing
U Unity, agreement in the community
L Listening and intercultural dialogue
T Tolerance and dignity
U Union despite differences
R Responsibility and knowledge
E Equity and equality
These seven points will be developed in specific government projects in collaboration with other ministries, with the Head of Nation, the Prime Minister and Parliament.
In 2019-2020, the main goals of the Ministry of Culture are:
To start the procedure for approval of the first national law on issues including cultural policy; declarations of cultural interest; cultural heritage of Asgardia (including its protection and conservation procedures, management and international relations, as well as training programs); development of the functions and tasks concerning the valorization of the cultural heritage of Asgardia (including contributions and obligations of citizens); organization of expositions, international events, archives, museums, libraries, etc.
Asgardia must have a national law to facilitate the dialogue with other nations and promote its cultural policy. This goal is very important.
Next, we should strengthen the presence of Asgardia in organizations and international committees of culture and heritage, through the parliamentarians of the Culture Committee and through the Ministry of Culture with O.N.U., UNESCO, ICOMOS (Monuments and Sites) and ICOM (Museums), ICCROM.
The Ministry of Culture intends to promote international research in collaboration with many researchers and scientists around the world to institutionalize the history of astronomy in schools and universities, and to promote expositions in museums and libraries of the world.
Also, we are planning to assist in the First Space Science and Investment Congress, because 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian artist and scientist and a key figure in the world of scientific discoveries in different areas, together with Nikolaus Copernicus, the Polish mathematician and astronomer.
The year 2019 will be dedicated to organizing the First Congress on Space Heritage that can take place in 2020 in collaboration with other ministries. Let’s remember that 2020 will be the year of the Olympic Games, which, from their inception, represented peace, unity and culture.
Last year was the European Year of Cultural Heritage. What major developments took place in the world of European culture last year?
In 2018, the main goal was to encourage people to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage, and to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space with the slogan: “Our heritage: where the past meets the future.”
Many institutions, even outside of Europe, organized events, conferences, international meetings. I also promoted events outside of Europe [personally].
For example, in Colombia, with the collaboration of the Italian Embassy and other diplomatic institutions, I promoted an international week about the European Heritage beyond Europe.
Certainly, this year focused on the European heritage and the dialogue among cultures, including important reflections on the Faro Convention (2005) for different aspects of heritage: human rights, democracy and promoted relationship to communities and society.
I think it is very important to build up knowledge and to promote culture because for all nations, including Asgardia, the future is built on a cultural foundation and on the traditions of the people. We must encourage an intercultural dialogue and, as a Space Nation, we have a commitment to peace and for unity. We should implement the Asgardian Year of Cultural Heritage as soon as possible.
Among the cultural heritage of Earth, perhaps the most important achievements of humanity are Egyptian pyramids, ancient Greek literature and the technical innovations of ancient Rome. What do you think the cultural heritage of Asgardia will be?
Certainly, the pyramids of Egypt, the heritage of Greece, the inventions of ancient Rome are important to the heritage of humanity, but we cannot exclude other cultures as well: the Maya, Aztec, Inca, Babylonians, and also the Indian, Chinese and Japanese culture, as well as Nordic cultures and African cultures in different periods. I think that the cultural heritage of Asgardia finds its roots in these different cultures, and we must begin by diligently studying the contribution of these cultures to the development of humanity, and especially to deepen the knowledges of space and astronomy to which all of these cultures have made contributions. The cultural heritage of Asgardia can find its origins in these studies, and from these origins we must arrive at the present day and define our spatial heritage. The Ministry of Culture intends to promote international research in collaboration with many researchers and scientists in the world to institutionalize the history of astronomy in the schools and universities, and also to promote expositions in museums and libraries around the world. The cultural heritage of Asgardia begins with the first studies of astronomy that different generations have inherited from history and continues with current studies and experiments. This knowledge base contributes to building Asgardia’s heritage.
In your opinion, what cultural traditions should be followed by Asgardian citizens?
I think that all Asgardian citizens must first have strong knowledge and awareness of the heritage of Earth [in general], with all of its characteristics and differences. These citizens should follow the traditions of their land, because all cultures have always analyzed and observed space and developed astronomical theories. That’s why it’s important to know history. A strong awareness is key to [...] building the future heritage of Asgardia. In the upcoming years, we must build a strong knowledge base to implement cultural traditions of Asgardia and how relate to the past, present and future.
There is some conjecture that humans only act human within the Earth's biosphere. How important do you think it is for people to remain cultured outside of our planet?
It’s only conjecture that humans act human only within the Earth’s biosphere. Space expeditions show the opposite. If people want to improve and evolve, they cannot do so without culture. Earth history teaches us that in a country without culture, there isn't development nor a future. The universe is very complex and requires a lot knowledge and high culture, and for this reason we must always improve our knowledge and build a nation, outside of Earth, founded on high culture. There isn't a future without culture both on Earth and in space, and the discoveries on Mars in these past weeks are an important testament to the role of the science and culture beyond Earth.
Will the architectural traditions of Earth spread to other planets of the Solar system, or will architecture become secondary to the functionality of new extraterrestrial constructions?
The experiences and the architectural traditions of Earth have always had important ties to the observation of space and to astronomy. The pyramids of Egypt, the ancient temples and shrines in East as well as in the West, the foundation of new towns, the location of burial sites — these are all important examples for understanding that always the humans always had a dialogue with extraterrestrial references.
Architecture has always challenged reality beyond Earth. To understand this concept, it is fundamental to explore the roots of the word “architecture” from the Greek language: ἀρχή (árkhō, “to begin”) and τέκτων (téktōn, “to create, produce”).
I think that the new extraterrestrial architecture will continue to follow the needs of communities and to generate studies and reflections on cultural references. For some years, architects and engineers in the world have been working on projects of “orbit architecture,” and I think it is very important to organize an international workshop and to share these different experiences.
How, in your opinion, can the culture of the cosmic state enrich the culture of Earth?
The cosmic space and Earth are elements of a unique system that is very complex. Earth is an integral part of space, and space is an integral part of Earth. We cannot separate the cosmic space from Earth. There is no clear boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space, but rather a continuity that favors the same life on Earth. That’s why I think that the cosmic state can continuously enrich the culture of Earth, and Asgardia has an important role in this.
What advice would you give Asgardians about preserving cultural heritage?
First, we must define what constitutes Asgardian cultural heritage (question n.3); afterwards, we can develop a cultural policy aimed at preserving and valorizing this heritage with two fundamental characteristics, tangible and intangible. It will be up to the national law to define the procedures regarding preserving cultural heritage. Now we must build the criteria and the methods for acquiring the knowledge of our heritage.