How the prize works

The Marisa Giorgetti International Award is awarded annually and is dedicated to the memory of the late Trieste native Marisa Giorgetti, who passed away in November 2011. She made the conscious decision to lead a self-effacing existence, shying away from any occasion that would entail public visibility, while at the same time posing as an important inspiration for innovative ideas and projects, both of a social and cultural nature, in the field of the safeguard of human rights, particularly regarding the reception and safeguard of weaker subjects, such as refugees and victims of violence, torture and serious exploitation. The importance of these projects and ideas has grown in Italy in recent years.

The Award intends to have a highly innovative character, in comparison to the traditional panorama of awards in Italy, both in terms of the themes it focuses on, and in terms of the modes of selection and identification of the recipients of the Prize.

The Award is divided into two different, but closely connected, sections, which are:

Section 1: An annual prize awarded to an author or several authors for a novel, short story, poetry, reportage, investigation or other form of literature published in Italy that has, with literary distinction and depth, addressed issues related to migration and to the coexistence between languages, cultures and traditions, and that has also fostered a culture of dialogue and the acceptance of diversities.

Section 2: An annual prize awarded to a single person or a group of people, or to an association or body that has distinguished itself in the following fields: the implementation of initiatives or programs that have worked concretely on a social, cultural or political level, in defense of the fundamental human rights of individuals, groups and communities, with particular attention to the rights of the weakest individuals and of victims of violence, forced migration, persecution and serious exploitation, or that have contributed to consolidate processes that foster peace and coexistence, or modify cultural attitudes or public policies that discriminate or violate human dignity.

The choice of placing the theme of the safeguard of human rights, and particularly that of international migration, at the heart of the prize, is linked to the fact that migrations constitute a strong engine for social, cultural and political change in contemporary societies, in Italy as in other countries. These changes involve both the countries of immigration and those of origin. Despite the importance of migration as a factor of change, in Italy there is a widespread cultural and political backwardness in understanding the actual importance of these changes. A backwardness that often leads to the spread of irrational fears among the general population, which are then cleverly manipulated by xenophobic political movements, even though these movement are apparently (the use of the adverb “apparently” is compulsory) losing ground in our society. Particularly striking is the fact that issues regarding migration (often perceived only as a problem or an emergency) are often relegated to niche areas of socio-cultural discussion.
The literary production that focuses on migrations (encompassing both literature strictly speaking, and reportage and investigations) is rapidly growing, and involves an increasing number of authors, publishers and readers. However, unlike what is happening with the film production that revolves around the same themes, the literary production that focuses on migrations, often put forth by authors of great value but that are little or hardly known, struggles to emerge and to be promoted in the context of the cultural panorama. Section 1 of the Marisa Giorgietti International Award aims to bridge this gap.

The situation of those who deal with migration (be it forced or spontaneous, to the extent that this distinction still holds its relevance) from the point of view of the protection of the fundamental human rights of those who are migrating, as well as from the social, anthropological and juridical point of view, is different in terms of the dynamics but similar to that of those that work in the literary field. They are often considered outsiders or «eccentrics» because of their choices. Similar to what happens in the literary field there are no official occasions where the important contributions of those who work, at times in solitude, towards the defense of the fundamental human rights of individuals, groups and communities or act to consolidate processes that foster peace and coexistence or a change in social and cultural attitudes characterized by identity closures,or policies that are discriminatory and detrimental to human dignity. Section 2 has the aim of instituting an official occasion where these important contributions can be recognized and promoted.

The choice of Trieste, and of its surrounding territory, the Karst, as seat of the Prize, is particularly significant, given the city’s multicultural history, which is unique in Italy, and of great interest for all of Europe. Its significance is also linked to the contradictions and lacerations Trieste has suffered in the course of the 20th century, which, to this day, have still not been healed completely.

The innovative quality of the Marisa Giorgetti International Award lies not only in the choice of the themes it embraces, but also in the way the winners of the annual prize are selected and identified. The Award is not a competition “per se”. On the contrary every juror proposes up to two candidates, chosen on the grounds of their own human and professional experience, with the aim of highlighting valuable individual or collective experiences that haven’t yet been made public. This mode of selection allows the Award to reach its main goal, both in regards to the literary and to the human rights section. It allows valuable individual or collective realities, which are little know because of geographical, political or social conditions, or because of personal choices of the single authors, to emerge.
If the traditional instrument of the competition had been selected, the Prize would have missed its main goals, both for the literary and human rights section. If the winners had been selected through a competition, people or collective realities of particular value but little or not well-known because of geographical, political or social reasons, or because of individual life choices of the authors, wouldn’t have had the possibility to emerge.

An evaluation committee has been created, within the two juries, which correspond to the two Sections. Its members rotate every year, and for the sake of impartiality, they do not base their evaluation on their own report, but on the reports of the other jurors, and thus assign the prize. (see the entry “The Jury”)