The annual Vico lecture promotes themes of city-building, urban development, and cultural evolution, and Toronto and its outskirts have been shaped by immigration. The series features speakers whose work address principles related to how immigrant and minority groups have affected the development of the Greater Toronto Area, including via culture, labour, business, and more. The Vico lecture honours the cultural and historic contributions of minority communities to civil society and the development of urban space.
2023 Vico Lecture
Italy and the Black Mediterranean: Race, identity and citizenship
The Vico lecture fosters exchange between York University and the wider community, in particular the Italian-Canadian community. The settlement of Italian immigrants fundamentally shaped the nature and development of Toronto and its suburbs over that last 100 years. The Vico lecture’s themes are a nod to these contributions and aim to engage other minority groups, descendants of these groups, and the public in a conversation about space, place, culture, and so much more.
In 2000, Canadian Senator Jerry Grafstein donated two rare Italian volumes of Vico’s works, initially published in 1746, to York University. Senator Grafstein garnered the support of Elvio DelZotto (LLB Osgoode and senior partner of DelZotto, Zorzi), who rallied Italian-Canadian business leaders to fund an annual lecture at York in memory of his law partner Fred Zorzi.
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) was an Italian philosopher and author. Vico’s writings sought to understand human history and knowledge and are considered the predecessors of many Enlightenment thinkers. He has been referred to as the father of social science and the first modern historian. The Vico Lecture is organized in collaboration with the Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies.