Enhancing Knowledge through Accessibility and Art

The 2016 Spur Festival presented an interesting mix of topics, ideas and perspectives that left me with a lot to think about. I am very appreciative for the opportunity to have been involved this year as an RBC Emerging Scholar and for the wonderful staff that made this entire festival possible.

This was the first time I attended a literary festival and I was not quite sure what to expect. The festival program highlighted many amazing events with brilliant speakers and I was excited to attend as many events as I could. Spur Toronto offered complex ideas and concepts presented in a way which people from different communities and disciplines could access and discuss. The Trans-Canada and Transracialism panels in particular created accessible discussions around topics that are not given adequate attention in mainstream media and often misinterpreted or misappropriated.

Having attended many academic conferences, I found myself comparing the panels to those in academic settings. Academic panels are often not so accessible to members outside of research fields, so it was great to see brilliant speakers engaging people in current political issues without relying on jargon. This was something that several of the other RBC Emerging Scholars agreed was a refreshing experience.The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

I was also incredibly appreciative of the meaningful collaboration with artists. I witnessed the work of several amazing poets, writers and spoken word artists (Zeinab Aidad, Shadiya Aidad, Trish Salah and Phoebe Wang) and I look forward to hearing the performances of the artists whom I missed seeing, soon to be available on the Spur Radio site. It was truly great to see the Spur Festival demonstrating how artistic media are valid modes of knowledge. Nearly all panel sessions were introduced by spoken word performances relevant to the themes of the discussion and provided an ideal entry point into the conversation.

I look forward to attending next year’s Toronto Spur Festival to gain a second look at meaningful intersections of politics, art and ideas on a national level.

Anupama completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She is interested in public policy, urban studies and participatory decision-making. She is currently studying at York University in the Environmental Studies Masters program. For her Masters project, she is interested in employing a multimodal research approach to analyze the urban dynamics of populations living in informal housing through the lens of environmental justice.

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