[-empyre-] Layers of ISEA2011: Corporate/Financial

Cynthia Beth Rubin cbr at cbrubin.net
Sat Sep 17 19:15:11 EST 2011

 HI Nick and all

Thanks for posting and for opening up the discussion to include the layers of meaning of simply being here. Thinking of the experience itself as layered, I find your description of the experience of being in Turkey to be more problematic than the actual experience. 

We are in another culture. Think about the semotics of the elements of this experience.

We are in a culture in which the expectation is that office workers and staff members wear "business attire". Many of the people guiding us around are students. You might be more comfortable with the student volunteers at SIGGRAPH and other North American conferences, who dress in the right balance of grunge and hip, but you are not in that culture. You might prefer security screeners who wear ordinary street clothes. But that is not done here. We are in Turkey.

We are also in a culture in which business contributions do not get filtered through a heavily bureaucratic government system of taxes and then metered out by a minister of culture, or one in which corporate sponsorship is filtered through foundations which are regulated for conflict of interest. Sabanci Holding donated the use of their meeting center for ISEA, and since we are in Turkey, we may take note of the way in which funds for academic "non-profits" reach their destination.

We are in a culture in which driving a Mercedes is an important sense of pride, and where the semiotical meaning of driving the equivalent of a Toyota Prius might be very different from what it is elsewhere.

I am not there yet in my learning about and understanding of Turkish culture. I do find it interesting that so many people consider "contemporary" and "modern" to be a full adaptation of global mainstream culture. We come here looking for difference in the bazars, the historic mosques, the food. But when we find difference in modes of dress, in what is considered the best way to fund academia, or in how successful business people choose to spend their money, we feel uncomfortable. 

Do Turkish cultural differences have to stay on the exotic side?

best wishes,

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