28 June 2021

The Body: To Be Named online workshop (July 2-3; and September 10, 2021)

Names are a key aspect to our identity(s), both personal and cultural. They are what we have been called in our communities, what we call ourselves, what is sometimes assigned to us and they ultimately determine how we live and move through the world. Whatever their cultural origins, names determine whether we are understood or misunderstood, nurtured or repressed, elevated or eradicated. They are how we are inscribed, documented by others, and are used by disciplines and institutions to define, categorize, attempt to discipline, and sometimes control the world. Our names move with us and can invoke connections through time and space when (re)called. Names are highly personal, at the same time as being wholly political. How is it that we rarely explore, investigate and face what it means To Be—Named?


The Body: To Be—Named is a creative 3 day workshop / seminar concentrated on acts of naming and being named as seen from the perspective of embodiment and the body. It focuses on how names are created and used to shape, reshape, and sometimes mis-shape, our worlds and identities in the context of our Bodies and Art.


Dates: July 2-3; and September 10, 2021.


Day one: Open Workshop: Lectures / presentations and discussions (To Be Named / The body seminar will be held via Zoom and will be open for workshop participants, as well as others that are interested – registration via e-mail:


Day two: Closed workshops for selected artists and researchers (Dorell Ben, Zhiwan Cheung, Trudy Borenstein-Sugiura, Teresa Flores, Guarina Lopez). During day two, we will discuss the materials presented on the first day, as well as invited participant’s projects; at the end of the day, the group will be divided into subgroups to work on an artistic activity).


Third day (to be held in September): This day will consist of the presentation of artistic projects which will be published on the To Be Named website.



To Be Named / The body seminar

Date: July 2, 2021, 4:00 PM CEST (UMC+2)


Key speakers: Dorota Sosnowska (Poland), Elias Wessel (GER), Gwyn Isaac (USA), Marta Ostajewska (Poland), Nancy Yadav (India), Szymon Adamczak (The Netherlands), Wiktor Bagiński (Poland)



4:00-4:10 Introduction

4:10-4:40 Wiktor Bagiński

4:40-5:10 Nancy Yadav

5:10-5:40 Gwyn Isaac

5:40-6:00 Discussion

6:00-6:30 Dorota Sosnowska

6:30-7:00 Szymon Adamczak

7:00-7:30 Marta Ostajewska

7:30-8:00 Elias Wessel

8:00-8:30 Discussion



Wiktor Bagiński, Why archives are white

Why are archives white, if minorities already mark the beginning of their own enunciations by speaking from anxious places of disavowal? Since the story is black, from the hollows of denial, or the traces of repressed contradictions. In this presentation I would like to controvert with Nana Adusei-Poku’s statement which claims that talking about whiteness with white people is not pleasant – it is neither enriching nor enlightening, but it is at times very draining. I think it is even worse than that.


Nancy Yadav, The ‘Adivasi’ body: Decolonizing the Politics of Naming in South Asia

Remo community address themselves as ‘remo’, which in their language, Remosam, means man; however, the community is identified as Bonda in anthropological and administrative records. The meaning attached to the name Bonda means ‘naked’, and non-tribal communities often address the Remo Adivasi as ‘naked tribe.’

In the presentation, I will elaborate, how ‘Adivasi’ communities are defined and classified and, in turn, how they define themselves, explicitly focusing on ethnic labelling of Adivasi communities in Odisha, India. The labelling and contemporary use of naming a community to which they do not conform to have real-world consequences, the term ‘Bonda tribe’ connotes negative meaning and stereotyping of the community. How community people refer to themselves or are referred to by others shape their perception and ‘other’ people’s view of who they are. The Remo community is already categorised as a Particularly Vulnerable community by the Government of India; the negative stereotyping of community-based on its name attaches stigma for the community members. The implications of the colonial constructed identity of the Remo community as Bonda needs to be examined in terms of the process of political identity formation and in connection with how the community choose to identify themselves in the public sphere today.


Gwyn Isaac, Towards an Understanding of the Body/Being: Anthropological face casts and their colonial and familiar legacies/becomings. 

During the 19th century, the practices of phrenology and anthropology relied on the collection of plaster casts of the heads and faces of colonized peoples as a method for developing typologies of race. During their creation, the name of each individual was commonly recorded, resulting in both a physical and social document of the person who had been cast. While the plaster face casts are seen by some to represent anthropology’s colonial legacy, the presence of known and named Indigenous individuals have allowed descendant communities to re-engage with their ancestors and the stories they recall of family members whose history was often omitted from national records. I explore how these casts embody these intersections of colonialism and science, as well as omitted or remembered Indigenous histories. I reflect on the concept of the “named human” as a particular anthropological method that created a taxonomy of Indigenous “type” specimens and, at the same time, how this practice has made it possible for Indigenous communities to resist scientific regimes and reassert the importance of lineage histories. In conclusion, I argue these casts present a liminal body, in which being in the past, present, and becoming in the future co-exist and, therefore, defy current physical anthropology and scientific understandings of the human body/being.


Dorota Sosnowska, Don’t call me a puppet. Bodies in (post-communist) transition

Starting from one of the pop music hits, “In the name of the ladies” by rock band Hey, my talk will concentrate on the examples of refusal to name or to be named from the era of post-communist transition in Poland. This specific period is a very intense time of forming new identities, new politics, new aesthetics, and ideologies in response to the great historical and political change. I will show that naming and especially naming the (non-normative) bodies could be seen as important element of the tension between politics and politicality (Boris Buden) which can be very important, also from the historical and even historiographic point of view.


Szymon Adamczak, Rendering body with HIV visible (in Poland)

My performance and research-oriented practice revolves around HIV-related culture. In the keynote presentation I will demonstrate questions, gestures and images in order to speak about the presence of the virus in the body and in society at large, particularly in the context of the current era of PrEP and undetectability. I will share the artistic process that has led me to create a performance duet called An Ongoing Song. A work that offers an intimate insight into a transformative act of forging a relationship with HIV, 40 years after the virus was identified. Originally AIDS was called GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). The process of naming HIV and AIDS has been tied with pointing to populations and communities affected by it the most. It paved the way for decades of stigmatization and prejudice.


Marta Ostajewska, Video performance inside – a tale of breath and naming

My video performance inside (video&audio Aleksandra Chciuk, sound Kunnej Takaahaj (Sakha), Ayur Zhat (Buryat), Aracely Juarez (Mixtec), Tiöma fum Dökter (Wymysiöeryś), Genner Llanes Ortiz (Maya)) consists of images of a body melting into one with the world around it: sand, water, and roots. It is complemented by audio: a tale of breath and naming – in several native languages. The text is interwoven and superimposed. Each of the translators changes a few bricks and sentences in the original text, saturating it with their presence. Each time the text is translated and the translation recorded, the project gains a new co-creator and a new recipient (language user).

The inside performance is a meditation on the edge of breath, different languages, words, body, gestures, and names.


Elias Wessel, Die Summe meiner Daten (The Sum Of My Data)

In a reality increasingly determined by digital structures, the status and meaning of the body and of corporeality in general is becoming ever more important. The ephemeral quality of all things digital tends to prompt the easy conclusion that digitization makes the body disappear. However, arguably the opposite is the case. Every act of digitization and every digital process always contains a substrate of the physical. We activate digital space with our bodies — to be precise, with our fingers and hands that glide across touchscreens and keyboards. The sending of digital data, too, still requires material memories and sensors that receive the signals of physical motion and use algorithms to translate them into electrical signals, which then store all the things that can be clicked into life by physical bodies. Thus, the state of affairs is more complex than it seems at a glance. Wessel’s photographic work to date has found its most compelling form in the large-scale 2017 project “Die Summe meiner Daten” (The Sum of My Data), in which he finds both intentionally beautiful and enormously revealing images for the relations between the body and digital data space. See Stephan Berg, Die Spur des Körpers (The Trace of the Body), Kunstmuseum Bonn, November, 2019.




To Be Named is in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Recovering Voices program, the EU funded CoLing project Minority Languages, Major Opportunities. Collaborative Research, Community Engagement and Innovative Educational Tools (see, and the Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network (EHCN) sponsored by the Open Society University Network.

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