Our group of ArtsCross academics met yesterday for our first extended period of greetings and discussions in London. We raised ideas about crossing cities and countries, notions of global citizenry and “cosmopolitan” engagement, the possibility of translation and transference. My education as an academic–much like my education as a dancer–has served to enculturate me to participate and enjoy this particular kind of dialogue. I anticipate the beginnings of generative debate and deliberate research.
In the back of my mind, I heard my son ask, what kind of group is this? He and I had recently been talking about what groups of animals are called in English: a parliament of owls, a romp of otters, an unkindness of ravens, a dazzle of zebras. He is in dance class, and wanted to know what a group of dancers are called. Are we called a flock of dancers like birds, or maybe a lamentation of dancers like swans, he asked? (Maybe if you’re a Graham dancer, I joked. Huh? he said).
And though my son asked a literal question, it resonated in me in important ways both literally and metaphorically as I sat in the lecture room at The Place. How we identify ourselves together (and apart) as academics must mean something. In many ways, it frames the terms of engagement. Are we a cosmopolitan of academics? A skeptic of academics? A translation of academics? An ambiguity, discontent, philosophy or satisfaction of …. the discussions continue.