A Catalogue of Cultural Conversations: Volume 2, Issue 2

Special Issue: Volume 2, Issue 2

“A Catalogue of Cultural Conversations”

This special issue includes shorter versions of the journal’s Longform, Brushstrokes, and Multimedia essays. The Brushstrokes essays serve as a written component for the 33 participants in the Global Cultural Fellows program at the Institute for International Cultural Relations at The University of Edinburgh. The fellows’ pictures are included with their articles.  The Longform and Multimedia essays are written by the program’s faculty coordinators and outside writers that were invited to share their perspectives. 





Edinburgh International Festival 2016 / Photographer Mihaela Bodlovic

Exploring Cultural Interests and Values

J.P. Singh

Theme 1: Highs and Lows

High and low refers to the difference between traditional art, like classical music or ‘national’ art forms, and commercialized art such as television series. Terms such as highbrow and lowbrow culture are used to distinguish taste in art and participation in such activities. It is important to recognize how various art forms fit into each category, but also how they interact or are excluded from one another in cultural programming and writing. Highs and lows can equally stand for exclusion and inclusion of any sort – for example, social, political, sexual – in and through art.  In other words, what sorts of arts and cultural artefacts obtain high versus low standing, and what are the connections between these highs and lows and society?


Angela Bartie Image

Cultural Interactions at the Edinburgh Festivals, c1947–1971

Angela Bartie

Hannah McGill Image

Insiders and Outsiders at Festivals

Hannah McGill


Zach Marschall Image


The Case for High Art

Zach Marschall

Chankethya Chey_Headshot Square

Art is Universal – Society is Local

Chankethya Chey

Velani Dibba_Headshot


Lessons from Lowbrow Art

Velani Dibba


Highs and Lows: The Jazz Perspective

Luis Felipe Ferra

Ellen Heyward


New Territories for Literature in Contemporary Brazil

Ellen Heyward

Lolisanam Ulugova


Highs and Lows in Tajikistan

Lolisanam Ulugova


Theme 2: Voice and Silence

This theme explores how individuals and social groups can assert voice through artistic creations or in society. What does it mean to have a voice? How do we come to characterize the voice of a group or community? The individual’s and group’s agency, or the capacity to act despite obstacles, may be a key consideration for how creative artistic expressions may be created.  Does the same hold for voice for social and political movements? Under what conditions do individuals remain silent or are silenced?  What does silence mean in art?  


Dorothy Miell Image

Voice, Art, and Collaboration

Dorothy Miell and J. P. Singh

Jenna Ashton


Participatory Practices

Jenna Ashton

Eona Craig 2


Echoes of Silence

Eona Craig

Xenia Hanusiak

Silence, Voice, and the Dialogic Scream

Xenia Hanusiak


Asif Majid_Headshot Square

Does Western Performance Give Voice?

Asif Majid




Let’s Dance

Jane Saren



Theme 3: Witness

This theme explores the artists or individuals as witnesses. What does it mean to be a witness to and how is that different from being an observer? Additional questions include what the artist’s or individual’s ethical responsibility is in situations of oppression, cruelty and hypocrisy?  Must an individual or an artist even have one?


Derek Goldman Image

From Spectating to Witnessing: Performance in the Here and Now

Derek Goldman


Jumana Al-Yasiri_Headshot Square

You Have Seen Nothing In Syria

Jumana Al-Yasiri


Caitlin Cassidy_Headshot Square

A Place of Seeing

Caitlin Nasema Cassidy


Marika Constantino

Today’s Trial is Tomorrow’s Testimony

Marika Constantino


Chris Creegan 2

What Will Be Edinburgh’s Testimony?

Chris Creegan


Devika Ranjan_Headshot Square

Theatre of Witness and Resistance

Devika Ranjan



Theme 4: Empathy

Empathy describes the ability to relate to another individual’s point of view and understand his or her emotional response. Artists often express the human condition in terms that the audience will recognize. Empathy allows the artist to execute this task.  How do the arts humanize or dehumanize?  In general, how do we empathize and represent the individual and human condition?


Syria TRojan Women on Stage in London Water Futures_Cynthia

Performing Empathy: Lessons from the Stage for Policymakers

Cynthia P. Schneider


MIke Anyanwu

Empathy: The Power of Healing

Michael Anyanwu


Mahtab Farid Photo

Empathy in an Orphanage in Afghanistan

Mahtab Farid


Ann Henderson

Art, Labour, and Empathy

Ann Henderson


Douglas Lonie picture

Do You Hear What I Hear? Empathizing  With Many Voices in Cultural Production

Douglas Lonie

Shubham Choudhury

Imagine All the People

Shubham Roy Choudhury

Theme 5: Anger and Anxiety

How do societal anger and anxiety influence cultural activity on local, national and transnational scales?  This theme also examines how artists create meaning from anger and anxiety in society at large. 


Faith Liddell Image

Speaking to Their Time: Reflections on Anger and Anxiety in 2017

Faith Liddell


Faisal Abu Alhayjaa_Headshot Square

Why me?

Faisal Abu Alhayjaa


Reem Alsayyah_Headshot Square


The Tender Power of Anger

Reem Alsayyah

Consuelo Hidalgo

The Art of Resilience

Consuelo Hidalgo


Arno Vinkovic photo

Can cultural production make people less angry at each other?

Arno Vinkovic



 Theme 6: Culture Wars

This theme reflects on cultural politics and economics.  Cultural wars involve clashes of collective identities across divides that ca be societal, national, or transnational. For artists and cultural producers, political institutions and economics impact the ways and degrees to which the arts receive public support and approval. Culture Wars can reflect how art is created in the context of these political debates. 


Corina Lacatus Image

Culture Wars as Clashes of Identity

Corina Lacatus


Abdulkarim Ekzayez


Culture Wars: Syria

Abdulkarim Ekzayez



Caricature or pornography of violence?

Mikael Löfgren


Solomiya Shpak

De-communization in Ukraine

Solomiya Shpak


Ariel Stolier picture

Free Admissions Help Arts Organizations Build New Audiences. Not Really.

Ariel Stolier

Manuel Viveros_Headshot Square

Reflections on Guerilla Art

Manuel Francisco Viveros


Theme 7: Global Values

Global Values speak to our current moment in an ever-globalizing world. Cosmopolitan understandings of human relations are in conflict with reactionary nationalist rhetoric and preferences. As a result, there is debate over how cultures are understood and how groups identify themselves. 


Singh 2

Art and the Global

J. P. Singh


Natalia Mallo

How to live together? Or—Why do we go to festivals?

Natalia Mallo


Puneeta Roy


When Words Don’t Matter

Puneeta Roy

Nik Nizam2


Is cooking neutral?

Nik Shahrifulnizam Bin Che Rahim

Gideon Wabvuta_Headshot Square


The reality of fear

Gideon J. Wabvuta