I have had many discussions with a specialist from Global History/Studies about Artscross and have gained some constructive insights from this perspective, since one of my brothers happens to be a professor in the field. Several issues that we have dealt with as part of our Artscross discussions have been much written about within Global Studies, such as the idea of there existing ‘multiple modernities’ in different places, and they are reflected in the different perspectives that Artscross brings together (1).

A further interesting research area deals with languages and translation, which is of course is heightened in the project here that brings different languages intentionally into the creative processes that unfold in the rehearsal spaces. Without a perspective that is sensitive to global developments and interactions much would go amiss, and it is important to bear in mind that languages itself are a product of translations between encounters with those from ‘elsewhere’. And hence languages contain many past misunderstandings in terms of their evolution.

As part of Artscross the differences in the languages we speak are being continually highlighted, such as today in Vida Midgelow’s session when we were guided through an exercise that led to the creation of ‘sound-words’. This clearly relied on a language being written in an alphabet and simply did not work for Mandarin.

Research around the idea of ‘translingual practice’ emphasises the danger of a searching for direct translations and an imposing of theories or concepts in a comparative way, where however different languages also entail different ways of thinking. Lydia Liu has written much about the incommensurability of words, which leads to the idea that the world can be understood in multiple ways (2). Referring to Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin, Liu writes that an original and its translation productively create meanings that are larger than ‘copies or reproductions’ (ibid. p.15).

What I am taking away from this research mostly for now is a going beyond thinking in terms of an East/West binary and ask questions around how these encounters we witness here not only in the rehearsal spaces but also in the many discussions that unfold between academics are productive and in the sense of being transformative to each individual engaged.

(1) Dominic Sachsenmaier and Jens Riedel, with Shmuel Eisenstadt (eds.), Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese, and Other Approaches, Leiden: Brill, 2002

(2) Lydia Liu, Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity – China, 1900–1937, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995


Thoughts from brief engagements with Global Studies

2 thoughts on “Thoughts from brief engagements with Global Studies

  • Yes. I thank everyone today for their rich discussions about the place and nature of dance/writing and elaborating issues around language, writing and the body as shaped by culture.

    What also becomes apparent is the shared importance of the ways in which we each differently ‘feel’ language and shape words within and across cultures. This forming of words in relation to dance is important for language ‘elaborates. . . bodily sensations’ (Binswanger in Frie, 2003: 156). Or, as dancer Deborah Hay so neatly articulates:

    When I write about the physical act of dancing, unique assemblies of
    thought often occur. These thoughts often re-inform my choreography
    and performance. My body as performer is more inclusive in the
    aftermath of writing a dance. (2000: 28)

    Further, as the writer/poet Lyn Hejinian would have it, ‘language gives structure to awareness’, for (poetic) language proposes a space of inquiry through which the ‘restoration of the experience of our experience’ becomes possible (2000: 345).

    The bodymind in the writing/dancing practice I am proposing emerges is not as a clearly defined object but as the intersection of bones, skin and flesh, of dreams, critical discourse, imagination and memories – locating the body as situated , marked by history, culture, training techniques and aesthetics, emerging from the memorial body. This memorial body is complex and multifaceted, encompassing habit and innovative processes, enabling the dancer in an intuitive moment to be aware of multiple pathways and possible directions.

    These traces echo the different thoughts, feelings, sensations of dancing and watching dance, playing across a range of dimensions – a range of realms – logical and ludic, critical and imaginary, (kin)aesthetic and (e)motional. In this way, the writing becomes an extension of the multifaceted experience moving. Co-mingling different linguistic registers, this approach implicitly challenges conventional modes of academic analysis and discourse, wherein performance is subjected to the edifice of the knowledge machine. For here,
    in a paradigm shift, the sensuous sits alongside the critical, and the conceptual is intermingled with the physical, providing new perspectives and new models through which to articulate movement research practices.

  • Thanks for your seminar, Vida, and thank you for mentioning Lyn Hejinian, a L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet that I once tried to translate into Swedish – in vain. But the impossible translation became a way for me to read her and she is an excellent example of how a linguistic practice can bring with it whole situations of living. In anthropology it may be called thick description; in philosophy it may be called Lebensform; in Hejinian’s amazing autobiography My Life, which is really a biography of the places she has moved in and out of too, it looks like this:

    ‘Back and backward, why, wide and wider. Such that art is inseparable from the search for reality. The continent is greater than the content. A river nets the peninsula. The garden rooster goes through the goldenrod. I watched a robin worming its way on the ridge, time on the uneven light ledge. There as in that’s their truck there. Where it rested in the weather there it rusted. As one would say, my friends, meaning no possession, and don’t harm my trees. Marigolds, nasturtiums, snapdragons, sweet William, forget-me-nots, replaced by chard, tomatoes, lettuce, garlic, peas, beans, carrots, radishes–but marigolds. The hum hurts. Still, I felt intuitively that this which was incomprehensible was expectant, increasing, was good. The greatest thrill was to be the one to “tell.” ‘


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