Sunday, 14 November 2010

Tatou's trips: Paris

Scholarship is an international enterprise. Scholars are part of international communities, are influenced by and comment upon ideas developed by colleagues in other countries, and write in a lingua franca that may not be their native language. Accordingly, they like to travel. Academics are among the planet's most frequent flyers. They make sure they attend plenty of international conferences, symposiums and workshops. They like to visit other countries to collect data or give lectures. The opportunity to travel regularly is one of the great joys of being an academic.

Last week, the Centre franco-norvégien en sciences sociales et humaines organised a three-day workshop in Paris for PhD candidates from the University of Oslo, entitled 'The Heritage of Structuralism'. There was a number of guest lectures, which mainly dealt with the works and influence of Claude Lévi-Strauss. In addition, some of the participants (including me) presented papers, which were discussed afterwards. On the last day, we visited an exhibition in the Musée du Quai Branly. It was an interesting and intellectually stimulating workshop, even though the exhibition was somewhat disappointing.

But no matter how interesting the academic activities, when you go to Paris, you shouldn't miss Paris. I have visited the city four times during the past seven years, but she still manages to surprise me, thrill me even. For instance, never before had I experienced her culinary delights (due to budgetary limitations), but this time we were generously invited to some wonderful restaurants. Besides, on Sunday (I had arrived a bit early, in order to be able to spend as much free time in the city as possible) I visited the Musée Guimet, the museum of Asian art that for some incomprehensible reason I had never visited before. I was flabbergasted by the museum's amazing collection of Asian (Khmer, Champa, Japanese, Indian, Central Asian, Nepali) religious art, and ended up spending the entire afternoon there.

Of course, my loyal friend Tatou kept me company. She had never been to Paris before, and she liked it very much, despite the lousy weather. We walked around the city, enjoyed the atmosphere of the Quartier Latin, and admired the Eiffel tower. We visited the aforementioned museums, as well as the St. Sulpice and the Notre Dame, the great mosque (alas, no infidels allowed in the prayer hall), Les Halles, Shakespeare & Co (cramped, overrated, overpriced, yet world-famous bookstore), and that bizarre temple of civic religion, the Panthéon. We had a great couple of days.

Some pictures:



1 comment:

  1. Interesting, the Musee Guimee! Will definitely go there if my January trip to Paris works out!