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United States and Italian Cultural Agencies Join Together to Examine the Two Nations’ National Identities

WASHINGTON (July 2, 2007)—The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) of the United States of America and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council) of Italy signed a memorandum of understanding to examine what “cultural identity” means and how each country's identity is shaped by outside influences. The memorandum was signed by the NEH Chairman, Dr. Bruce Cole, and Prof. Roberto de Mattei, Vice Presidente of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, in a ceremony Friday evening at the Italian Embassy.

The memorandum provides for a two-part conference to bring together American and Italian scholars to examine cultural identity and the contributions of the United States to Italian culture and Italy’s influence on American culture. The emphasis will be on each country’s humanities, including history, literature, music, etc. Each country’s response to immigration and its role in cultural identity, both past and present, will also be considered. One part of the conference will take place this fall in Washington, and the second part will occur next spring in Rome.

Papers on the findings of the participating academics will be published in follow-up to the conference. The conferees will also provide recommendations for a scholarly exchange program between the two countries, which will allow for continued academic work on the subject.

“Italy and the United States have affected one another’s history and culture throughout America’s history”, stated Dr. Cole. “From the Romans’ influence on our own nation’s founders to American rock music’s popularity in Italy, we have each helped to shape what the other nation has become and will be tomorrow. We hope this conference will be an opportunity for academics to share information and teach us more about what these influences are and what their impact has been.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965 and dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs. It is the largest funder of humanities programs in the United States.

Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) is a public organization; its duty is to carry out, promote, spread, transfer and improve research activities in the main sectors of knowledge growth and of its applications for the scientific, technological, economic, and social development of Italy. To this end, the activities of the organization are divided into macro areas of interdisciplinary scientific and technological research, concerning several sectors: biotechnology, medicine, materials, environment and land, information and communications, advanced systems of production, judicial and socio-economic sciences, classical studies, and arts. CNR is distributed all over Italy through a network of institutes aiming at promoting a wide diffusion of its competences throughout the national territory and at facilitating contacts and cooperation with local firms and organizations. From the financial point of view, the main resources come from the State, but also from the market: even 30 percent of its balance sheet, an extraordinary result, is the result of revenues coming from external job orders for studies and activities of technical advice as well as from agreements with firms, contracts with the European Union, and with the other international organizations.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Office of Communications at (202) 606-8446 or info@neh.gov