Transmission in Motion

Seminar Blogs

“A contextualization of interdisciplinarity” – Gido Broers

What is context? Since context is a concept that can be applied to many domains and functions as a base for interdisciplinary research (and practice), it is relevant to start here with a brief description of this concept, as described by Kaiyu Wan:

The word “context” is derived from the Latin words con (meaning “together”) and texere (meaning “to weave”). The raw meaning of it is, therefore, “weaving together”. A circumstance is a weaving together of many types of entities. Thus, in describing a context we must define a finite set of entities, a finite set of properties for each entity, and the inter-weaving of the properties. (Wan 2009, 33)

As Wan describes in this fragment, context is an assemblage of different entities which together create a specific circumstance. If one of these entities changes, this influences the circumstance as a whole. In Roger and Dusia Kneebone’s lecture, The Art of Performing Science, they made a plea for connecting different areas of research and addressed the importance of placing objects and performances (not necessarily in a theatrical context, but also in the context of everyday actions) in a different context.

By changing the context, you are able to arrive at what the essence of an object, act or performance is. Roger Kneebone showed an interesting figure – unfortunately I could not find it online – which showed the principle of selection to abstraction to representation. This principle could make you question your habits for instance or another action that you perform unconsciously or make you aware of your assumptions, norms, and values. It is at this point that theatre could come in, because this is, in my opinion, the art of representation that makes you perceive things in a different context. But this same principle works for interdisciplinary research, or at least for my area of academic interest and research: combining theatre and performance studies with (neuro)cognitive science. It is through dialogues with students and researchers from a different field (or context) that I am able to intensify my knowledge and arrive at a more profound understanding of what the essence is of both my own field of expertise and the topic that I am working on in my research. So let’s weave together and dare to change our context sometimes!


  • Wan, Kaiyu. 2009. “A Brief History of Context.” International Journal of Computer Science Issues 6.2.