From its vantage point on the Mediterranean, Barcelona is at the confluence of Europe, Africa and Asia, connected by waters that, for millenia, have seen cultures cross, clash and commune with one another. The Mediterranean is a place of transit. It has been, and continues to be, the locus of interaction for diversity and a nexus point between the global north and south. Although largely landlocked, it is perhaps the most migrant of seas, a passageway for political strategies, trade and the making of history — not merely on its shores, but also much further inland.
To arrive in Barcelona is to feel the Mediterranean close at hand, to find the imagination stretching back in time to the multitude of crossings, known and unknown, that these waters have witnessed. It is also to look outward, beyond the horizon, to spaces of difference that dissolve into the sameness of the waters. To arrive in Barcelona is to land at a global nodal point. To arrive, as I have, to found and set up the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM) is to confront the challenges of honouring the complex history of the Mediterranean, with its plethora of cultural mosaics.
Few locations, though, could be more ideally suited to the goals of this UNU institute focusing on globalization, culture and mobility. For UNU-GCM, the Modernist site of the Sant Manuel Pavilion acts as a daily reminder of the Modernists’ efforts in the early twentieth century to transform society through cultural innovation. That this movement emerged in response to industrialization, urban expansion and internal migration is an inspiration for the work that UNU-GCM seeks to undertake.
As one of the fifteen research and training centres of the United Nations University, UNU-GCM aims to further the goals of the United Nations through a sustained engagement with globalization, culture and mobility. My objective, as Director, is to ensure that UNU-GCM combines rigorous academic research with a commitment to advising policy in order to work towards overcoming inequality and injustice. By adhering to the Charter of the United Nations and through committed research and knowledge dissemination, UNU-GCM ultimately works to ensure the basic rights of dignity, justice and recognition in the context of a globalized world, where peoples and cultures are mobilized and rendered migrant.