Sheyla S. Zandonai
I first heard of the IIAS nearly ten years ago, when a friend shared information about a call the Institute had launched for the Macau Winter School. I had just left France for Canada. Macau, where I had been several times before to conduct fieldwork for my Ph.D. research, appealed to me in ways that freezing Montreal did not. It was familiar and still strange. It had that Asian feeling where all things come alive at once, resonating within the anthropologist in me. I applied. Being selected as one of the twenty participants of a highly competitive event opened a new world of possibilities. Even though that trip to Macau was short, it felt like going out to explore the unknown again. Since then, IIAS has been a way for me to connect and learn, a haven against the uncertainty I faced many times: as a scholar, a person, and a foreigner in nearly every place I have been. Its vocation to normalize otherness and invite the margins to the center is unparalleled. In so doing, IIAS builds a community of belonging among cultural diversity. This, I believe, makes the Institute a great place in which to think of ways to engage that are at the same time intellectual, political, and human. Without a doubt, Philippe Peycam and the terrific team working with him should be lauded for crafting and nurturing a truly global yet close-knit network. There is no place like IIAS.
Sheyla S. Zandonai, University of Macau