SAWA has highlighted our awareness of how language influences our thoughts, and shapes the concepts we work with. As a German-Arabic language workgroup not only did we rely on English as the language in which to mediate, but also to reflect on international museum ideas that originated in an Anglo-American context.
Early on during SAWA sessions we collected museological vocabulary and frequently used key phrases to question how they were applied in multiple localities. We called it our SAWA glossary. Many terms are understood differently depending on the contexts they are used in. What are the shared and divergent meanings of words? During the global pandemic SAWA meetings became entirely virtual. We used this as an opportunity to return to the glossary as a platform to continue these discussions and share them with others.
We deliberately opted for a very open forum and invited participants to choose an individual way to present their exchange, fully aware of the many challenges that publishing workshop experiments pose.
The outcome represents the conversations about the significance and meaning of words and phrases that we all constantly use within the museum framework. The ongoing, and rewarding, challenge is to find a joint definition when using them.