ICS Sends Student to London for Conference

HDR student Sky Hugman blogs about the one week she spent in London attending a prestigious conference.

By Sky Hugman

12 June 2013 

Grey day at Goldsmiths University, with trees and greenery

E-tan completed, check.
Another amendment?
Okay. Breathe.
E-tan completed? Check.
Bags packed? Do I really need to take a hard cover of that book on power? Yep. Bags packed.

It's May 10 and the Institute for Culture and Society have started a new initiative, giving their students the opportunity to contribute to an interdisciplinary festival held over three weeks at Goldsmiths College, a part of the University of London. This year Goldsmiths Graduate Festival was going global (opens in a new window), so as students from the University of Western Sydney, we were part of the biggest showcase of ideas and events it has had to date.

Because Bloc Party and Blur both hail from New Cross, and Goldsmiths specialises in everything great about interdisciplinary academia, I was well chuffed to be attending. Lucky Kev Dertadian and me. A full week immersed in Ispam, the event of the non-event, Django Reinhardt and the surprise of doing sociological research. This experience was going to be about creating relationships, sitting in on as many of the events, conversations, PhD papers I could and loading up on inspiration. It turned out pretty much as expected, there was a lot to be inspired about, all underpinned by a general vibe of open discussion....about everything. Goldsmiths is a melting pot, a crucible for ideas. It makes perfect sense for ICS and Goldsmiths to create a conversation through a cross fertilisation of students, it's healthy, it's timely and frankly, it's fun.

By the time we got there they were already two weeks into the festival. We were warmly welcomed by Tim Hickman, part festival organiser, part chair, part skilled question asker. Les Back also heartily greeted (and tweeted) us, sitting in our papers. His followers on AcademicDiary read that Kev Dertadian was researching the current widespread use of pain killers as a pre-emptive way of managing work stress or life pressures. I was problematising linear models of knowledge transfer to emphasise complex knowledge encounters and circulations. By the end of the festival I couldn't help but note I had just been part of a complex knowledge encounter, one interested in listening to a wide variety of voices, from a wide range of disciplines and universities. The art of listening is certainly alive at Goldsmiths.

It's always intriguing what you remember in hindsight, as an afterthought of conference travel. London is grey, and marked by a cobble stoned history that runs through it like that dirty great river it was built on. Goldsmiths college makes friends with this history, architecturally, academically, creatively. London is besieged by time markers, speaking in chimes on the hour, before the hour, at all hours, nearly as pervasive as those surveillance cameras on every corner. Elaborate cultural architecture or risk society? Is it always peak hour here? Every second person has a map? Is that the destructuring or restructuring of borders? The line for Lichtenstein is how long? You are giving a paper on an autumn wind across a graveyard? I love it, I'm moving. Pending funding.