Last week I hosted the first in a series of four cross talks with a group of six researchers that will generate the source material for this project. The event took place at CRASSH – the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities and we transformed their meeting room into a mini recording studio. The cross talk panel is composed of research fellows, post doc and PhD researchers, each of them representing a different discipline and academic department.
The purpose and aim of these cross talks is to unpack and analyse the complex and contested notion of community – particularly in light of the inflationary use of the term in both the arts and in politics. It was particularly poignant to hold this first discussion on 9 November 2016, the day we learned that Trump had won the US election and our conversation was inevitably informed by the shock this result has sent through our understanding of the societies we live in.
Because it carries such predominantly positive connotations, the term community is often understood as relating to our sense of identity, to forms of belonging, engaging and sharing. Given both the current moment and perhaps a sense of the futurity of community the aim of our discussion is to think more precisely and critically about how ideas of community can also be instrumentalised to mobilize others and validate a whole range of causes to a broader public.
If community is creating a sense of belonging and inclusion then perhaps inevitably it also speaks about forms of exclusion. One aspect of the discussion focused on the relationship between community and nationhood, the experience of self and other in different circumstances. Each of the cross talks is translated by either one or two people from creative disciplines: a slam poet/rapper, a clown, a play-writer, a shaman, someone drawing - and during the first cross talk I focused my cameras on those forms of translation.
The next cross talk will take place on 2 December at the OPdA library on the Biomedical Campus.