Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 55

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS The “global” theme with respect to the week’s earlier themes was further explored through break-out sessions and subsequently by the group as a whole. The issue of cultural identity and the possibilities of interactions across them arose in each group’s discussions. These included the place of identity amidst systemic issues, the possibilities for cultural translation, and the role of cultural syntheses. Given the presence of spice, one group incorporated the metaphor to speak directly to the implications of fusion food as a cultural product. One group pointed out that fusion food can be confusing, but one should still value the product. These issues were further discussed when the Fellows discussed collectively beyond the group. The notion and presence of cultural goods and evils and respecting each other’s cultural traditions produced spirited discussions. Mahtab Farid urged the Fellows to focus on the good. Asif Majid noted that even in agreeing with the “good” there may be hidden issues of power that must be confronted. The role of historical context, ritual, and cultural specificities allowed the Fellows to point out that each person was distinct but also part of a whole. This was most apparent in the “song” exercise that Natalia introduced by singing Bésame Mucho and exhorted other fellows to sing a song in any language they chose. For a while it sounded like a cacophony. Amidst the various songs though was the sense of singing together. As Natalia gestured to fellows to stop singing one by one, the last fellow’s plaintive song filled the room. Sitting cross-legged on his seat, Asif Majid sang with his eyes closed. It was a poignant moment in which one song lingered amidst the silence of the room�but it spoke to everyone. 54