Kinship, a 6-week online course exploring community, relationality and belonging in a world of islands.
31st January 2023 to 7th March 2023
We inhabit a world of islands…
Our pale blue dot; a constellation of archipelagos buoyed amidst an even greater cosmos of celestial atolls. Like the billowing ocean tides, our terraqueous isle undulates toward the sun, moon and stars, impelling the transformation of matter at each turn, our planetary tidewrack visible in the fallen leaves and glacial floes.
Despite our separations, cosmic and interpersonal, we are all intimately connected. The poet John Donne famously said ‘no man is an island’, and while the biotic world relies on the creative expression of our individuality, our own ‘islandness’, in order to manifest itself, beneath the surface we discover, like islands, that we are inextricably joined.
We are joined at the oceanic root, at the depths of the seabed, and by the salt-stippled space between us. The seas of relation that meditate our entanglements are, in the same breath, domains of impasse traversed only through building arks and yielding to the winds that carry our words and wares in sensuous exchange, or by diving courageously into the unbroken fathoms between and among us.
As our relational interdependencies are thrown into ever-greater relief as a result of the global ‘metacrisis’, the metaphor ‘world as archipelago’ offers us an intriguing way to look at our interconnected amphibious existence. Expanding on (and challenging) the notion of the ‘global village’, an archipelagic outlook acknowledges both our connections and separations as foundational to our relationships, all the while inviting our oft-forgotten ocean kin into our awareness.
By thinking with the ‘world as archipelago’ metaphor, and with islands and their inhabitants and visitors (not about them), we can explore what kinship means in the context of a divided world, divided, that is, at the socio-political level, not at the physical level…
Advaya began our inquiry into the topic of kinship in 2022. Our first iteration of the course asked: what does it mean to belong? What does it mean to be in relationship with the ever-unfurling world we find ourselves a part of? What, exactly, is community? And who do we really mean when we say “we”?
Following our expansive inquiry into the topic of kinship in 2022, the 2023 iteration will focus on the metaphor ‘world as archipelago’, drawing timely insight from our planet’s islands and oceans, both of which offer a bounty of wisdom on questions of relationship within the context of the Anthropocene.
This year, KINSHIP will invite us to rally together as crew as we explore our earthly relations and the liquescent spaces that connect us. Each week, we will navigate towards a unique island of inquiry, mapping counter-cartographies of relationship along the way. Through tentacular engagement with self, other, and the more-than-human, we’ll challenge colonial and essentialist notions of relationship so that we might orient ourselves towards healthier ways of being together, ways that honor our profound entanglements with our elemental home.
We’ll reflect on the thresholds, boundaries and borders that mediate our belonging, seeking to unflatten the map through ‘tidalectic’ perspectives that offer welcome anchorage in a world adrift.
Iain McGilchrist Islands of the Mind, 14th February 2023, 6pm GMT
In this talk I will very briefly relate my long engagement with the question of hemisphere differences in the brain; and show how this draws attention to the necessity of a balance between sameness and difference in our perception of all that is. The left hemisphere tends to lump similar phenomena into categories, while the right hemisphere preserves the unique nature of the actually occurring instance.
Interestingly one of the most fertile turns of civilisation in the West was that which occurred around the year 650 BC in Greece and led to a sudden eruption of human flourishing in the arts and the sciences equally: it was based on a civilisation that was coming into being in distinct but nonetheless connected centres, on islands around the sea of the Mediterranean, enacting a fertile cross-miscegenation that depended on simultaneous distinction and connexion, difference and yet sameness.
Other societies, such as the Egyptian and Babylonian, had been monolithic in their structure, and their wisdoms were prescribed. Greece was in relation to this a breath of fresh air: a new encounter with experience, as little as possible limited by inherited wisdoms, yet liberated by them into a new synthesis. The idea of the archipelago – units that are independent, yet interconnected – runs, and must run, deep in the Western psyche. I interpret this in terms of what we understand of the two hemispheres of the human brain.