The Global

Prof JP Singh reflects on our last deliberation day on The Global.

Gideon Wabvuta held before him a red chilli and spoke to anger and anxiety and its global manifestations. He narrated his own story in which his mother in Zimbabwe worries about him being in Los Angeles. Gideon also described ways in which his identity in the United States is often perceived through the lens of being African American.

The Global group, last in a series of seven, used the language of spices to connect to earlier themes of the week. Using spices as a theme was the brainchild of Nik [...]

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Culture Wars

Reflecting on a performance of Mark Thomas and a guided walk by Edinburgh Art Festival director Sorcha Carey, the Global Cultural Fellows discussed the idea of "Culture Wars"

The Culture Wars group started today’s session with a clip from the film The Gladiator, specifically the scene in which two warriors fight to the death in the Colosseum for the amusement of the emperor and cheering masses. “We who are about to die salute you,” one ill-fated man yells to his ruler.

Then, with the clip finished and the lights turned back on, today’s presenters stood in front of the assembled Fellows and stated now that you have an idea of the game we’re about to play…

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Anger & Anxiety

After seeing "The Divide" at the Edinburgh International Festival, today Fellows reflected on the theme of Anger & Anxiety.

Anger and Anxiety

Standing in the middle of a circle formed by the collectively-seated Global Cultural Fellows, Consuelo Hidalgo scanned the list of questions in her notebook, raised her head and ask her colleagues: do states deserve the leaders they elect?

Nearly half of the Fellows stood up to signal their agreement, although these statements were qualified by bemusement at the wording. In the proceeding questions, Consuelo asked the Fellows to expose their positions on controversial subjects: torture, gay marriage, and euthanasia, etc. The changing configurations of [...]

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Empathy

Zach Marschall and Prof JP Singh summarise the discussion on Empathy, reflecting on the show "Flight".

“The world still thinks India has a functional democracy. I beg to differ.”

Those were the words of Shubham Roy Choudhury in his presentation on empathy, the theme for today’s discussions. Acknowledging that today marks the 70th anniversary of Indian independence from British rule, Shubham referred to the lack of empathy in the current Indian state toward non-Hindu minorities and the presence of lynch mobs in India to comment on the need to bridge divides.

The political stakes of empathy impelled this group to focus on current political [...]

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Witness

Global Cultural Fellows reflected on "Mies Julie" and "Ramy: In the frontline" in today's session on Witness.

Do artists have a predisposition to bear witness? Why and How?

That was a primary concern for the Global Cultural Fellows after seeing Yaël Farber’s Mies Julie and Ramy Essam’s Ramy: In the frontline. Their discussions acknowledged many challenges including moral and ethical respsonsibility of artists, being a witness through direct contact versus secondary representations, and witnessing via digital and multimedia platforms.

To bear witness requires the individual to engage with the outside world – both inside and outside performance spaces. The five Fellows in the Witness group [...]

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Voice/Silence

The third day and second day of in-person deliberations focused on Voice and Silence, reflecting on two performances.

Voice and silence help make up an actor’s theatrical performance. Enunciation, intonations and inflections enrich characters for audiences. But today, the Global Cultural Fellows explored how voice and silence not only appear and disappear in performances, but also in our everyday lives.
Using last night’s performances of Pike Street and Lal Batti Express as references for today’s discussions, the five fellows comprising the Voice/Silence group facilitated open, small-group discussions on a variety of aspects of the topic. Asif Majid led a talk on power and rawness; Xenia Hanusiak [...]

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Highs and Lows

Zachary Marschall summarises the first day of in-person deliberations in Edinburgh on the theme 'Highs and Lows', reflecting on participants' experiences and their attendance at the opera 'Don Giovanni' the night before.

The Global Cultural Fellows held their first meeting this morning in Edinburgh. On the heels of seeing Don Giovanni the night before, five fellows commenced group-wide discussions on the cultural terms “highs” and “lows”.

Ellen Heyward, Lolisanam Ulugova, and Velani Dibba used their presentation times to examine the connections between highs and lows and social class. Ellen and Velani both acknowledged how high culture is associated with socio-economic privilege, but advocated against understanding high and low as a competition between groups. Velani equated participation in the arts with omnivore consumption, [...]

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Exploring Cultural Interests and Values

The Director of the Institute for International Cultural Relations, Professor JP Singh, introduces this blog and the posts you will be able to follow over the next week.

The political tumults of 2016 – especially the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States – have unhinged cultural assumptions about the world getting closer and the functioning of democracy. The rise of political populism and the role of cultural anxieties in Western democracies, but also in places such as India and Turkey, entails a deeper examination of the formation of political, social, and economic values and interests. Equally the events of 2016 call into question the extent to which different [...]

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