At the Anatolia People’s Centre (APC), a community centre and meeting point for the Turkish and Kurdish community living in Stoke Newington, London in 2011, I distributed a set of four postcards, each containing a question: Can you write an English expression you dislike? Can you write a word you really like in any language you know? Can you write a word in your mother tongue that you feel represents you? Can you write a traditional saying in your mother tongue?
Examples of responses to the first question were a set of apparently neutral words, such as ‘ok,’ ‘cool’ and ‘all right.’ But ‘ok’ was perceived as manifesting a lack of interest, ‘all right’ as an offensive way of saying hello to deliberately avoid personal contact. The word ‘cool’ was considered rude and ‘street language’ by a fourteen years old girl. Favourite words spanned descriptions of landscapes, weather, boyfriends and intimacy, childhood memories, and stories of people long dead. Translating traditional sayings led to talking about values, about family, humour, but also about misunderstanding and feelings of maladjustment.
The answers collected inspired a research into the performativity of communication that ultimately led me to engage with Serres’ concept of the parasite to develop a figure of miscommunication. This exploratory practice initiated a research into looking at how communication, in fact, dismissed the terms of faithful communication by staging what can be perceived as guest-host relations that accommodated new publics into communication, and led to the analysis of the workshop Eu—Político in my thesis, to explore the parasite (Michel Serres) as a figure of miscommunication.