Centro Incontri Umani - Ascona

Recent samples of scholars' work

Prof Ann R David, University of Roehampton, London - summer 2020

Ann R David writes:

"This residency at Ascona offered the quiet space needed away from administration and teaching and a much-longed-for opportunity to focus on my writing. I was able to complete the writing of full drafts of the first three chapters alongside some detailed historical research using online sources and the small library of books I had brought with me."

Ann R David's report on her stay 

Father Francis Tiso, Catholic priest - spring 2019

Francis Tiso writes:

"This three-week retreat in Ascona has enabled me to take my time in getting below the surface of materials that have interested me for a long time. I had to neglect my writing in order to dedicate time to pastoral work and the migrant crisis. I now feel that I have made substantial progress in preparing these works for publication."

Francis Tiso's report on his stay 

Tsung-Han Tsai, Shantou University - spring 2019

Tsung-Han Tsai worked on three different projects, all of which were further developments of his work on the English writer E.M. Forster.

Tsung-Han Tsai's report on his stay 

David Nugent, Emory University - summer 2017

David Nugent writes:

"During the summer of 2017 I spent two glorious months at the Centro writing a book about political paranoia in twentieth-century Peru. Everyone at the Centro made my stay unusually pleasant and productive. Everything I needed was easily and readily at hand, because of which I was able to go to work on the day I arrived. And because of the exceptionally supportive environment that the Centro and its amazingly staff maintain, I was able to continue working until the day I left. This made it possible to make rapid progress on my book project, which I was able to finish during my tenure.

The Centro is very unusual in the sense that it brings together scholars whose work is highly interdisciplinary, and does not fit neatly within the boundaries of conventional academic discourse. It is rare indeed to encounter such a stimulating and creative work environment. Although the other fellows and I shared few if any specific research interests, we nonetheless discovered a great many points of commonality in how we address problems. As a result, we were able to learn a great deal from one another. It is no exaggeration to say that the Centro provides a unique environment in which to learn and create."

David Nugent's report on his stay 

Tsung-Han Tsai, Shantou University - summer 2017

Tsung-Han Tsai writes entitled "Hearing Lives: Music and Modernistic life-Writing". He writes that his stay at the Centro was a rewarding and supportive experience that allowed to make great progress in his research and his writings.

Tsung-Han Tsai's report on his stay 

Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Lecturer, Griffith University - summer 2014

During his time at the Centro, Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne worked on two projects:

- Sovereignty and the Immunitary Logic of the Post-war Sri Lankan State considers the extent to which (despite the rhetoric of reconciliation expressed by the Sri Lankan State) violence remains the hidden, repressed ground of sovereign power in Sri Lanka;

- The Evolution of Australian Native Title in Its Historical Relation is a co-authored book (with Jonathan Fulcher and Courtney Smith, both practising lawyers in Brisbane and specialists in Native Title in Australia) that situates the evolution of Native Title in Australia in its colonial historical context.

further details 

Ying Li, Professor of Fine Arts at Haverford College - summer 2013
'Foreign terrain'

'In her recent paintings, completed during a residency at Centro Incontri Umani Ascona in Switzerland, Li painted for the first time at high altitude, a plein-air extreme well suited to her strengths as a painter. The high vantage points offered by the mountain village alter the spatial organization of the landscape. Rather than seeing through space, Li engaged with a dynamic top-down space that plunges even as it recedes creating a natural, vertiginous abstraction. At altitude Li was also closer to the light, closer to the weather, closer to the environmental changes that have informed her work for many years.' (Painters Table, 2 May 2014)

'Old man with dog in winter' (courtesy of the artist)

Valle Onsernone #6 (Puffy Clouds), 2013, oil on linen, 10 x 20 inches (courtesy of the artist)

See also thumbnail images to the right.

further details of Ying Li's project 

Bruce Kapferer, Professor, Dept of Social Anthropology, Bergen - summer 2013
2001 and Counting: Kubrick, Nietzsche, and Anthropology

'In 2001 and Counting, renowned anthropologist Bruce Kapferer revisits 2001: A Space Odyssey, making a compelling case for its continued cultural relevance. While the film's earliest audiences considered it to be a critical examination of European and American realities at the height of the Cold War, Kapferer shows that Kubrick s masterwork speaks equally well to concerns of the contemporary world, including the Iraq War, the 2008 financial crisis, and the material and political effects of neoliberalism. Kapferer explores Kubrick's central theme - the ever-changing relationship between humanity and technology - both with regard to current events and through the lens of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the mythical concept of the eternal return.'

Published by Prickly Paradigm Press

Tony Crook, Director, Centre for Pacific Studies, University of St Andrews - summer 2013
Terms of Engagement: Anthropology, Indigenous Lifeworlds and Resource Extraction in Papua New Guinea

The period of my CIU Fellowship ran between 1 May and 5 September 2013, and was extraordinarily rewarding and productive. The beautiful setting and intellectual context amongst the other Fellows and visitors, made it possible to concentrate and explore my research project in a manner that has proven to be as fruitful as it is rare. Aside from the research work itself, I gave two seminars during the Fellowship. I experienced and enjoyed the direct effect between the generosity of the invitation and the generosity, so to speak, that this gave to one's thinking and writing as the materials could be seen anew, and fresh insights and possibilities pursued. The very generosity of the social and intellectual relations that enabled my Fellowship led to a series of effects that reflected this causality; and in doing so, it would be nice to think that the research conducted over the summer months has in return furthered the Centre's own cause.

My CIU Fellowship was held under the title 'Terms of Engagement: Anthropology, Indigenous Lifeworlds and Resource Extraction in Papua New Guinea'. The Fellowship enabled me to fully immerse myself in a large, complex and multi-faceted project that has been developed as the story of encounters with the Ok Tedi mine have unfolded over the last decade. The project is also difficult in respect to the position it stakes in heated and polarized debates over academic ethics, environmental destruction and corporate hegemony. The Fellowship allowed me the space and time required to properly engage with my data, these debates and contexts, wider materials and the regional literature; whilst this kind of concentrated engagement is exactly what the project required, such an opportunity to freely dedicate oneself in this way is increasingly impossible in my wider commitments to projects and students.

Hideko Mitsui, University of Cambridge and University of Tokyo - 2010

While at the Centro, shortly after completing her doctoral studies, Hideko Mitsui worked on the idea of traitorhood and how it contributes to the formation of cosmopolitanism in Japan. This eventuated in an article in Social Anthropology 18(4)- "Longing for the Other: Traitors Cosmopolitanism"

Further details of Hideko Mitsui's project 

  Via Signor in Croce 9 - 6612 Ascona - Ticino - Switzerland - email