BIAA Residential School 2019

This is a text which I produced and performed at the British Institute at Anakara as part of their 2019 residential school. The structure and a lot of the language in this text heavily borrows from the prologue of the seminal text ‘Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity’ by the French anthropologist Marc Augé. Augé coined the term ‘non-place’ to refer spaces where concerns of social relations, history, and identity are erased, including, many functional spaces such as airports, taxis, supermarkets and hotels.

It was a trouble-free taxi ride, the trip to the airport from Byker presented no problems at 3.30am. I had left plenty of time between arriving and when my flight was due to leave. I handed my passport and flight info in order to receive my boarding pass. After doing this and passing security without incident, I enjoyed the relative freedom imparted by the certainty with my ID registered and boarding pass in my bum bag, that I had nothing to do but wait for the sequence of events. Just like everybody else there. All of us simultaneously aware and unaware of one another.

I boarded the KLM952 5.30am flight to Amsterdam without incident. Once sat in the plane I went over in my mind the imagined route of my journey. My appalling knowledge of place names and geography meant that I didn’t get very far. I re-read the flight information and mentally planned out the series of connections and actions that I would need to perform:

  • Leave Newcastle at 6:00 to arrive in Amsterdam at 8:25
  • Stopover: 4 hours 5 minutes
  • Leave Amsterdam at 12:30 to arrive in Istanbul at 17:05
  • Stopover: 3 hours 0 minutes
  • Leave Istanbul at 20:05 to arrive in Ankara at 21:10
  • Grab shuttle bus at 21:40 (look for guy with a sign)
  • Arrive at hotel at 10ish

Despite some confusion with the shuttle bus things went largely without incident, however it wasn’t until eleven that I made it to my room. I was fucking knackered.

I double-checked where I needed to be tomorrow. Cool, ten at the BIAA place just a short two-minute walk away.

I woke at about seven, showered and had a coffee in my room from one of those tiny mugs you only ever see in hotels. I went for breakfast at about eight. I had left plenty of time before eating and when I would need to leave the hotel to make tracks for the institute. After eating breakfast, I checked the route and gathered my things. I enjoyed the relative freedom imparted by the certainty that I had everything, and I knew where I was going. After arriving at the institute, I had nothing to do but wait for the sequence of events. Just like everybody else there. Many of us simultaneously aware and unaware of one another.

We received a very warm welcome from our hosts, and we were guided to a boardroom laid out with tables and chairs. I found a place to sit without incident. Once sat I went over the itinerary for the day. My appalling ability to retain people’s names as well as times meant that I wasn’t able to absorb much. I am sure that the previous days’ travel didn’t help. However, I re-read the information and mentally planned out the series of talks and events that I would need to attend:

  • Registration & Welcome to the programme starts at 9:30 and finishes at 10:00
  • Session one ‘Introduction to the BIAA’ and ‘The BIAA digital repository and collections’ starts at 10:00 and finishes at 13:00
  • BIAA Mezze buffet starts at 13:00 and finishes at 14:00
  • Sessions two ‘Stable isotopes and bioarchaeology in Anatolia’ starts at 14:00 and finishes at 17:00
  • ‘Getting to know each other’ starts at 17:00 and finishes at 18:30
  • Dinner at BIAA starts at 19:00 and finishes at 21:00

After the meal a group of us left and got drinks in the city. After having been transported and detained in a variety of non-places, including, taxis, airports, planes, hotels and boardrooms – I felt like I had finally arrived in Ankara.

Total travel time: Newcastle to Ankara 39 hours 30 minutes

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