A big part of my Mellon School experience so far has been the seminar with Ju Yon Kim. Revisiting some texts I had read before and putting them in conversation with new ones has been fruitful especially in terms of the discussion it has generated. At the end of both days (Monday and Tuesday) an image that came up in discussion has stayed with me. At the end of day one it was the image of traversing with old maps, having to create new ones. This came from a sentence in Seyla Benhabib’s article. She writes, “We are like travelers navigating an unknown terrain with the help of old maps, drawn at a different time and in response to different needs” (674). This was a moment in the article that people in the seminar were drawn to in that it suggested to some a creative potentiality. As I was reflecting on this I could not help thinking about cartography – and the impulse to map and survey territory – and the role it played/plays in colonialisms.
On day two we divided into groups and I was in the group discussing Stuart Hall’s article “cultural identity and diaspora”. In our discussions on identity Dominika suggested that identity can be like a protective shield. This is image has stuck with me and is something I am carrying with me as I think about race, racialization and bodies that “pass” – a point that came up in Sara Ahmed’s article.
Moving from the images that have stayed with me I thought it fitting to end with some images from our seminar – images of the visual representations of the questions and issues that were on our minds.