The Catalan political scientist speaks of the importance of public space and of the need to see ourselves as being part of a wider environment.
Shared Spaces recorded this interview with Montserrat Guibernau in March 2015 when she visited the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) to give the lecture “Sovereignty and State” in the Barcelona Debate “Wield the Word” lecture series. Guibernau believes that public space is important because it is “the place where people share their thoughts, the place where people take their children to play, and it is also a place for confidence between all the people… who are meeting each other in a specific environment”.
She stresses that it is also a meeting place of “experiencing personal lives, not only meeting with friends but also new people: foreigners, strangers, and the people that are visitors.” People will take with them an image, a specific memory of the place and will turn it into something special.
From a more basic standpoint, she says, “Public space includes nature… and we need to regain the symbiosis between nature and humans and the experience of human lives, and to think about ourselves as being situated in a wider environment”. This environment includes sociological differences, but there are also different approaches to life, a certain atmosphere and the different opportunities held out by coexistence.
Finally, Guibernau identifies two of her favourite public spaces. The first is the plaça de la Vila in Vilanova i la Geltrú where during the Carnival celebrations there are “huge battles of sweets among different people”, a festival of life and light, and full of colour. Second, she also chooses Piazza della Signoria in Venice where “the combination of the sea with the square, with the music, with the different kinds of people who share the space… is an image that automatically makes me feel quite happy”.