Walker Art Center

Sarai does is very rooted--that you refer to in your Rhizome interview.[4]

I am also interested in exploring the network, and specifically new-media practices, as a fruitful way to approach issues of globalization, especially the roles of the local and the trans in the global.

So my first question is: What do each of you think about the term translocal and some of the issues embedded in what I have said and in Broeckmann's and Kogawa's texts, as well as in other references to the term and these issues?

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From: Shuddhabrata Sengupta <shuddha@sarai.net>
Date: Mon Mar 11, 2002 2:48am
Subject: Re: Why "translocations"?

Dear Steve and all the others on the list,

First of all, a big hello from Jeebesh, Monica, and me (Shuddha) in the Raqs Media Collective at Sarai in Delhi. We look forward to a stimulating few days of conversation.

I think Broeckmann is quite close to what many of us feel when he talks (implicitly) about the tensions between the pulls of nomadism and the search for the feeling of home.[5] This tension, we feel, describes the predicament of translocality quite accurately. The feeling of being transient where you are, no matter how long you have been there. The sense of "internal" exile, even from the context of mainstream art and media practice, that some of us have come to recognize as part of our everyday experience. And also the unexpected alliances that we find with our traveling companions--free-software activists, hackers, coders on the fringes of code, and other free-floating intellectual and cultural artisans.

In this sense, for us, the creation of Sarai was about providing a "home for nomads" and a resting place for practices of new-media nomadism. Traditionally, sarais were also nodes in the communications system (horse-mail!) and spaces where theatrical entertainments, music, dervish dancing, and philosophical disputes could all be staged. They were hospitable to a wide variety of journeys--physical, cultural, and intellectual. In medieval Central and South Asia, sarais were the typical spaces for a concrete translocality, with their own culture of custodial care, conviviality, and refuge. They also contributed to syncretic languages and ways of being. We would do well to emulate even in part aspects of this tradition in the new-media culture of today.

I was particularly struck once by what the Russian cyberfeminist Irina Aristarkhova said in a panel discussion on cyberfeminist practices at the last Next 5 Minutes conference in Amsterdam. I am paraphrasing her, but she spoke of the importance to all who work in new media of the idea of "hospitality," of always being hosts and guests in one another's practices.[6]

This might create oases of locatedness along the global trade routes of new-media culture.

4 Raqs Media Collective interviewed by Mike Caloud about the Sarai New Media Initiative, posted on Rhizome, April 18, 2002, part 1 http://rhizome.org/object.rhiz?3460, part 2 http://rhizome.org/object.rhiz?3465.

5 See Andreas Broeckmann, "Construction of Dialogic Spaces," at http://www.translocal.net/ground/gsauna/andreas.html.

6 "First, a bit about my work on welcoming differences and hospitality as a cyberfeminist strategy. Thus far communities seem to welcome differences at the moment of self-formation, while after being formed, they often operate to level out differences and strive toward homogeneity. A desire for heterogeneous online communities, specifically among diverse women interested in the impact of technologies and their proliferation, is the motivation behind me joining. In this case by differences I mean especially geographical and cultural differences of our members, as notions like race and color are pretty much defined by where you are from." Irina Aristarkhova <uspia@nus.edu.sg>, "[undercurrents] moods and such," April 2, 2002, e-mail to <undercurrents@bbs.thing.net>.