Embodied Diversity: Let Me Show You My Shadow

Dr. Michail Galanakis,
Helena Oikarinen-Jabai
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In our work we (workshop directors) have found that, when we try to understand the cultural values that are experienced and expressed with different physical, aural, kinaesthetic, visual and verbal communication, the traditional academic methods are rigid and detached. In our researches we bring along the embodied aspects of our lives, while questioning our existing gender, 'racial' and other given positions and identifications. We challenge these given positions and identities as such, and the spatial configurations that reproduce them. In the workshop we want to approach together with other participants, our embodied diversity and otherness, as a practice of self-awareness. Each participant is invited to communicate localized memories to her/his group. In that way we can interactively become aware of, and share some of our personal, cultural, emotional, sensual memories that are spatially configured. We agree on the essentiality of embodied memories fixed in space. In our workshop we propose non-verbal enactments of our memories related to our personal otherness. The workshop will start as a performative play. We want to give space to our bodies and voices, not to verbal (English) "acrobatics, widely practiced in academic contexts. In this way we avoid communication that dictates syntax, codes and political correctness. By the end of the workshop we will bring the verbal aspect along, and hopefully surprise each other. We believe that feeling our own diversity and communicating it to others, will enhance the understanding of the diversity we talk a lot about but practice cautiously in our every day life.

Keywords: Diversity, Embodiment, Configuration, Space, Memory, Action, Interaction, Otherness, Communication
Stream: Representations: Media, Communications, Arts, Literature
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Embodied Diversity

Dr. Michail Galanakis

DA candidate, Postgraduate Degree Programme of Spatial and Furniture Design, School of Design, University of Art and Design Helsinki

Studies of Academic and University level. August 2001: Registered DA student at the Dep. of Furniture and Spatial Design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Finland; 1996-1998: Master of Arts in the field of Industrial Design Research, the Design Academy Eindhoven, Holland; 1989-1995: Bachelor in Architecture at Aristotle's University of Thessaloniki, Greece; Significant Academic and University projects; Presentation at the Fourth International Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations. UCLA, July 6-9, 2004. Fellow of the RTN European network for urban studies. Presentation at the 5th European Academy of Design Conference in Barcelona, Spain, "Urban public space design: unwise design and social exclusion". Master Thesis "Sustainable Public Space Design. 21st Century Agoras". Diploma project in Architecture, "Linked Images". Design of a prototype underground metro station, within an imaginary urban landscape. Two Erasmus programs for Urban Design, in Porto, Portugal and in Barcelona, Spain.

Helena Oikarinen-Jabai

DA researcher, Department of Art Education, University of Art and Design, Helsinki

In many previous academic, artistic and practical works I have looked at the issues of Otherness and transformation of identities. My experience as a home language teacher for Finnish and Roma children in the 70's and 80's in Sweden, my former marriage with a Gambian, my time spent in Sweden and Gambia, my remigration, and my Finnish-Gambian daughters' identity negotiations, made me ask how myself, different communities to which I belong, and my fellow people, define and negotiate our belonging, our position as an outsider, being in-between of cultural changes. At the end of the 80's and in the 90's, I conducted art workshops with children and researched and exhibited their art. The art came from Finnish-Sami children from different Sami groups, gipsy, refugee children, Guyanese children of different ethnic, social and racial backgrounds, and from Gambian and Tanzanian children. I also organized drama workshops against racism and ethnocentrism. I have continued with multicultural issues in my academic field. In my Master's thesis in cultural anthropology, I studied Morogorian (Tanzania) children's performative identity negotiations and cultural embodied transmissions. In my Master's Thesis in Psychology (Interdisciplinary Program in Intercultural Communication and Relations) I wrote about the meeting and identity negotiations of Gambian women. In my Licentiate dissertation in Art Education I deepened my insight into Gambian culture. In my dissertation work I want to offer my readers new angles to multi- and trans-cultural issues in the Finnish and in the broader context.

Ref: D05P0088