“La repubblica popolare di Bolzano” (People’s republic of Bolzano) is a data visualization and visual journalism project results from the effort of a multidisciplinary team, including design and computer sciences researchers from the Free University of Bolzano-Bozen, a cultural anthropologist, a photographer, and a journalist. “La repubblica popolare di Bolzano” was conceived with the intention to contribute to the overcoming of commonplaces and prejudices usually associated with the Chinese community. Combining a statistics-based investigation, relying on official data from the local government, and a qualitative research, the project aimed at inviting citizens to discover who the members of the Chinese community living and working in the city are, and what they think of Italy and of local culture and society. Contrary to the common belief – also spread by media – that Chinese people are “invading” the city, the project helped reveal that, while we are witnessing a small-scale migration of Chinese people to Bolzano, they are not at all creating a ghetto in the city, rather, they are integrating within it.
This project, resulting in a journalistic enquiry, infographics, and a website (www.repubblicapopolaredibolzano.it) featuring animated graphs, maps, and a series of qualitative interviews, was first presented at the last “Research Night” (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, September 26th, 2014), and has since attracted great interest from both the local community and internationally – the latest publication is on the German magazine “Der Spiegel”, issue 51/2014.
The project is presently translated in two languages, Italian and German, due to the bilingual nature of the Bolzano city. We are at work to translate in english all the contents, in order to spread the project to a wider and international audience.