[xmca] ISCAR - Sevilla 2005 -- Theoretical Concepts in CHAT and their connestion to physical concepts and knowledge

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (ana@zmajcenter.org)
Date: Mon Oct 03 2005 - 12:19:15 PDT

ISCAR in Sevilla, September 2005:

In a conference of this scope, where one cannot hope to have attended
even one 10th of all the presentations, it is hard to give any overall
evaluations or even impressions. But, XMCA members who did not come to
Sevilla, ought to have some notion of what went on there for 5 days in
September 2005. So those of us who were there really need to put our
thoughts together and give some descriptions of what went on. That is
not easy. There are different aspects one can write about, different
themes that ran through presentations, different aspects of
organization. I will be working from my notes -- taken in haste during
the workshops, from the abstracts we received and from some other
sources people gave us (handouts, web pages). It would be very useful if
someone at the XMCA headquarters could put the abstracts in pdf format
on the server so that everyone could have an access to them. (Mike, is
it possible to organize it?).

The conference was held in 3 buildings of the Department of Psychology,
Sociology and Philosophy, at the University of Sevilla. Those are new
buildings (not part of the University main venue in the old Tobacco
Factory), built with inner balconies and great visibility, so they were
easy to navigate. The workshops were held in auditoriums, most of which
had a classic layout: a podium with a blackboard and projection screen,
and then rows of seats and desks. Everything fixed -- unmovable. There
were just a few rooms without fixed benches -- with panels and chairs.
They were used for Poster sessions. My first fear was that the first
part of our session was assigned a room with fixed benches. We would
have to move it -- since it was an interactive drama workshop where
people have to have space to move, group and regroups and play!!
Fortunately, it was not: we were given one of the poster rooms!!

We usually don't consciously think of the space and its qualities when
we participate in activities with intellectual content. But it is
important. If our beliefs about the mediated quality of intellectual
growth and functioning are true, then we have to think about the space
as mediated and mediating. European universities (at least three of them
I know, and now Sevilla) are still mediated by another paradigm about
intellectual processing and education. A paradigm that Vygotsky started
to question 100 years ago. It takes much more to have this understanding
of ourselves trickle down to those who plan and build schools and

Participants came from many parts of the world. But not from everywhere.
I was happy to see people from Africa -- some of them from Rwanda! There
were not many Africans in the previous ISCRAT conferences. Participants
came from all continents. There were many people known to us on the XMCA
discussion list in the conference: N. Ares, D. Bakhurst, S. Chaiklin, M.
Cole, M. de Haan, J. Derry, Y. Engeström, S. Gaskin, A. Goncu, P.
Hakkarainen, L. Holzman, V. John-Stainer, E. Lampert-Shepel, C. Lee, E.
Matusov, D. Robbins, W-M. Roth, A. Stetsenko, A. Surmava, J. Valsiner,
B. van Oers, N. Veresov, G. Wells, J. Wertsch..., There were many more
we have to learn about.

The conference program listed two main themes with lots of sub themes:
THEME A.- Theoretical and Methodological Issues
THEME B.- Acting in changing worlds
Each workshop was classified within one of the two themes and within one
of its subtopics. What was hard on the conference organizers and on the
conference attendees was to separate workshops that tackled similar
problems in time: there were many workshops I wanted to go to, but they
were held at the same time. I always had to choose between, at least two
competing workshops and more often between three or four. That was very
hard to juggle. I ended up running from one to another, missing chunks
from each workshop that I wanted to hear, or just worrying that I was
missing something else.

Before the conference, I made my own selection of workshops which have
something to do with play and imagination. That was my personal program
guide, I am attaching here. However, I ended up changing it to
accommodate other talks which were also important to me. [Other
participants in Sevilla: Please send your own selection of the
workshops!"]. In my next postings, I will discuss some of the
presentations I attended. I invite you who went to Sevilla to discuss at
least one of the presentations: one paper, one concept you heard
discussed, one thought you found important in Sevilla. Each one of us
has a special "pet" interest, and sometimes, special ways to understand
or to "objectify" this interest through different selection of topics
and different people. Maybe you want to connect the questions we asked
before the Conference with your experience in the conference? Or maybe
you would want to mention just something unexpected, something that made
you think?

Until later.


Ana Marjanovic-Shane

151 W. Tulpehocken St.

Philadelphia, PA 19144

Home office: (215) 843-2909

Mobile: (267) 334-2905

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