Notes from Prague: Inter-disciplinary Conferences in an International City

IMG_9119The sun sets over the Vltava River, illuminating the tops of trees still wet from spring showers. The day has been very warm, and the scent of blooming flowers at Kinskeho Zahrada Gardens wafts through the window of my hotel room. I am in Prague, one of Europe’s most beautiful international cities, where in a twenty-minute lunch you might chance to hear seven languages, and see as many and more examples of multiculturalism from your erstwhile perch at a local cafe. I can think of few better places to host an inter-disciplinary, international conference than this–and so, for the next few days I will be posting Notes from Prague on two “Probing the Boundaries” conferences for ID.net.

Dr. Rob Fisher started ID.Net (Inter-disciplinary.net) fourteen or so years ago. At that IMG_9133time he was teaching philosophy and theology at Westminster College in Oxford, and he found that two disturbing trends were beginning to creep in. Disenchanted with a lack of collegiality, Rob thought there had to be a way to return to academic dialogue. He decided to run a conference along rather different lines, with the idea of opening meaningful interdisciplinary dialogue. Now, with nearly forty conferences each year on a very wide variety of topics, ID.net (and Rob) are excellent examples and role models for those who wish to foster connections rather than niches in scholarship. They are one of the inspirations for Rogue Scholar Salon–and I hope to host more of the organizers here, soon.

The ethos of ID.Net  is to foster international and interdisciplinary dialogue. Our gatherings are intentionally small, so that people really speak to each other and to each other’s ideas. I am the project leader for two here in Prague, both in the nexus of “Probing the Boundaries.” The first is “Making Sense of Pain.” Pain (multiply defined) sits as a nexus at the centre of innumerable intersecting relationships. In cultures for whom self-inflicted pain is a means of experiencing vitality, pain, body and self are critically linked. This principle recognizably appears in aspects of ritual, of consumption, of sexuality, of psychological pain, of dissociation and body dismorphia. In so many ways, in sickness and in health, pain is the means by which we navigate the vulnerable, permeable boundary between ourselves and others—the inside and outside of our bodies and minds.

I hope you will follow the conversation; we should be tweeting to #IDnetP for the duration of this meeting.

Thursday, May 9th

Session 1: The Inter-subjectivity of Pain

Autism and Suffering
Nize Maria Campos Pellanda
Universidade de Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil

The Language of Pain
David Biro
SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn, USA

Feeling-with the Pain of Another: Intercorporeality, Body Schemata and Boundaries between Bodies
Lisa Folkmarson Käll
Center for Dementia Research, Linköping University, Sweden

Session 2: Suffering Self: Identity and Embodiments of Pain

Engaging with Pain, accessing the Embodied Self: The Role of Pain in the Experience of Iyengar Yoga Practice
Bárbara Ayala
Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad de Chile, Chile

Can Pain Be a Number?
Ian Grant
North Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Blind Musicians in the 20th Century: A Tragedy of Urge for Artistic Motivation
Ozan Eren
Middle East Technical University, Turkey

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2 thoughts on “Notes from Prague: Inter-disciplinary Conferences in an International City

  1. Hi! I would like to get your opinion about joining Interdisciplinary.Net’s conferences. Isn’t the cost to attend one a bit expensive? Do you think it’s worth it? Thanks!

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