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Keywords Investigations: Weeks 1 & 2

Keywords Investigations Gitanjali Pyndiah content

Image of Gitanjali Pyndiah

Two sessions already! My last conversation with Christian Nyampeta kept me wondering about how to ‘open up’ to the multiple hues of each and every word, even words used mundanely. I realise how there could be violence in language, the ‘violence’ that can be felt in certain words (to borrow from Pouka ‘black’ ‘white’ or absolutes like ‘no one’, ‘all of us’, ‘we’), which got me thinking that what if violence could be perceived (and taught to be perceived) at the point of words at individual level, how much physical violence could be avoided. Can peace then be hoped for, in how we use words? Adrian Rifkin introduced us to the dystopian novel/ film Fahrenheit 451 and the ideas around utopia and dystopia have been churning in me since then.

Still from the film 'Fahrenheit 451'

Oskar Werner in Truffaut’s film of Fahrenheit 451. Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature

To choose one word as keyword was already quite challenging. The exploration of the word through the interaction of each and everyone is now a stimulating and almost frightening experience. I have chosen the keyword ‘Diaspora’ and in the two last sessions, I have traveled from Israel to Jamaica transiting through New Delhi, Berlin, New York and discovering the different aspects of London as experienced and negotiated by the others. What has started for me as a better way to understand the word, its depth and history, and better understanding myself and the why of my interest in this word, is now taking me places that I can’t yet imagine.

Informal image of the Keywords Investigations workshop

Informal image of the Keywords Investigations workshop

I have started the Keyword Investigations Workshop with certain ecological imageries of the word ‘diaspora’ as seeds dispersed across geographical landscapes. I am also exploring contemporary writings on diaspora and am inspired by Gilroy’s notion of purity, Eryksen’s study of nationhood, and Hutnyk’s narratives of hybridity and diaspora. I look forward to finding, creating and sharing visuals which could help me collate pictures with the text ‘Diaspora’.

Amidst my initial confusion with the choice of my keyword, I now find myself determined to explore it and with it, a self-exploration to figure out my attraction to the word.

Gitanjali Pyndiah