Darija Davidović, University of Vienna--Coping with collective traumas. Analysis of contemporary theatre performances in the successor states of Yugoslavia
The research intent of my dissertation project is the analysis of contemporary theatre performances from Serbia and Croatia, which put the traumatizing war events of the 1990s and the resulting consequences as the central object of their theatrical work.
I have chosen productions as examples which differ in their form and category, to thereby determine different staging strategies and compare and discuss their special aesthetical principles.
I will investigate the issue of aesthetic features of theatre productions dealing with war – and also the function of theatre which tries to close gaps in the reappraisal of the wars by offering additional space to social struggle and intervention in the public space.
In my view the continual treatment of the past in contemporary theatre is an indicator for continuing political and social deficits, but also an indicator for the politically progressive theatre scape, which has formed itself as a critical alternative to the public discourse in the regions of the former Yugoslav republics.
In the theoretical part of my work I will discuss the treatment of the conflicts and i will emphasize the specific traumas persistent in the various regions of former Yugoslavia.
Subsequently I will discuss sociocultural and political efforts after the year 2000, to better classify my examples and to relay the special production conditions of political theatre work. In the main part of the work- the analysis of examples, there will be a connection between the theoretical work regarding the analysis, description, interpretation and categorization of the plays, which will then be compared and discussed.
Zala Dobovsek, AGRFT, – Theatre and War: Fundamental Relations between Performing Art and Wars in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia
My 10-minutes presentation will be focused on theatre director Oliver Frljić and his strong artistic-political impact in the field of contemporary engaged theatre and wider social space in Ex-Yugoslavia (and abroad). I am pursuing a doctoral degree in performing arts at Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana with a research topic »Theatre and war: fundamental relations between performing art and wars in the territory of former Yugoslavia in 1990s« and the chapter of Frljić will be part of it. Basic theme tags are: questioning and problematizing documentary forms, religion, war, war and art, national and private traumas, reconciliation, collective memory, term of “others”, cities in war, (auto)victimization, national identities etc.
Croatian theatre director Oliver Frljić (1976) is not only well known in the area of former Yugoslavia but nowadays already all over the Europe. All Frljić’s plays that he directed in Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and beyond were the focus of public theater. He is a versatile artist: a writer, a theorist, a performer, an actor and an organizer. Frljić is preoccupied with ignored topics from political reality, so his name has become synonymous for courageous and provocative theater. His most resounding theatre pieces are Turbofolk, Damned be the traitor of his homeland!, Zoran Đinđić and Trilogy of Croatian Fascism etc.
He has established himself as one of the most radical, provocative, controversial and notorious theatre author. His fundamental motifs and research materials in most of his theatre pieces are spinning around wars; (historical and contemporary) conflicts between different nations, religions and countries in former Yugoslavia.
I will present Frljić’s methods of dealing with post-war issues through his performances in the last 5–7 years. More or less all of his projects are by the rule made in a documentaristic way and later combined and upgraded with scenarios/texts that are written and made as collective work (method of ‘devised theatre’).
On the other hand Frljić’ engagement theatre is – because of the touchy nature of researching and representation – always much more than just artistic principle. His statements about (post)war issues and radical methods of making performances at the same time always include wider circle of “audience”, he literally breaks the barriers between public, artistic and private spaces. He is consistent in problematizing (post)war issues such as war crimes and genocide in former Yugoslavia during 90’s which were never solved out or at least critical overthink in public; or even worse – they were glorified.
Jana Dolečki, University of Vienna--Staging the Other in times of war
In my doctoral thesis, I'm currently dealing with the representations of the Other / Enemy on and beyond theatre stages in Croatia and Serbia during the wars in Yugoslavia (1991 – 1995), and this is the section of my research I would like to present in the context of the summer school in order to get some valuable constructive feedback and further contextual contribution. The specific chapter of my research handles the ethnic wars in Yugoslavia where the indication of the Enemy in the political reality did not occur just purely as a consequence of a concrete wartime actuality, but was indeed constructed by the political elites in power as a concept against which the consolidation of a firm national identity was ensured.
During the periods of direct combat such as war, presentation and definition of the Enemy happens in many forms and via different processes. Some of them are rhetorical constructions directly executed by the state apparatus and means of dominant political power, while others reflect and reproduce the national consensual conception of the Enemy by rendering it visible. In the case of the war in ex-Yugoslavia, this displaying of the image of the Enemy was happening most powerfully through the mass media such as television, press, and radio, something I would also present and contextualize in my research. Being used as the most direct means of spreading the official ideology, mass media (and more explicitly, the state-owned mass media) played a very decisive role in how the proceedings of the war were interpreted, and inclusively, in what way was the Enemy presented, providing it with defined and predominately stereotypical characteristics.
Using examples from the field of theatre and other theatrical phenomenon of the wartime in Croatia and Serbia, I would like to analyse in what way and to what extent the theatre stages of that time and place followed or contested the aforementioned stereotyping in constructing the image of the Enemy; what were the specificities of these representations and eventually, how were they perceived and adopted by its audiences. My main research would thus focus on material relevant to the proposed topic such as most pivotal texts performed in official as well as non-official theatres, performances of specific theatrical forms occurring in the context of the wartime (e.g. special artistic units of Croatian Army, delegated to present their repertoire on the front-lines), media reception and interpretation of the mentioned theatre events, etc.
Luana Garcia, University of Warwick--Protest Cultures, Nationhood, and Politics in Brazil!
Since 2013, Brazil has gained accentuated international exposure for being the host of two major sporting events – the FIFA World Cup of Football (2014) and the Olympic Games (2016). These events are being staged in Brazil during a time of significant social, political and economic change. The ‘country of the future’, as Brazil is often referred to, faces immeasurable challenges to combat violence and improve its infrastructure and the basic rights of its citizens, including health care and education. Such inadequacies led to massive protests and riots during the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, in which the broad population clamoured for better living conditions. And, three years after those immense social upheavals, the country is facing an enormous political crisis and economic recession. Against the backdrop of these challenges, the country will showcase itself to the world in Rio 2016.
In this paper I will examine protests made by artists/volunteers during the (inter)national performance of Brazil at the opening/closing ceremonies of FIFA events: The Confederations Cup (2013) and the World Cup (2014). The first two protests occurred at the Confederations Cup’s closing ceremony, in which volunteers displayed two banners – one referring to the privatization of Brazilian public spheres, exemplified by the privatization of the football stadium Maracanã, and the other referred to Brazil’s homophobic tendencies. The third refers to a protest that occurred during the World Cup’s opening ceremony, when Wera Jeguaka Mirĩ, a thirteen year-old indigenous boy, opened a band with ‘demarcação’ (demarcation) written on it, alluding to Brazil’s lack of policies assuring the demarcation of indigenous territories. The paper aims to depict how these performative instances exposed the fractures within the country’s official narrative of nationhood and considers Wera’s solitary protest as the ultimate break from the ideologies presented as defining the Brazilian national identity.
Gustavo Fialkow, Coventry University– Embodying the Nation: The Beauty and the Beast or the Nation and the Dancer
This paper focuses on the complicated relations between minoritarian segments of a country’s population and the hegemonic majority, and discusses the construction and location of the archive as a place of generation of memory. While these relationships could be investigated along multiple strands, ultimately, they are all underpinned by questions of power. The concept of minority is generally used to talk about a segment of the population, that does not share one or more features considered constitutive for the rest. This distinction (if expressed neutrally) or lack (if looked upon normatively) implies intrinsically that this group does not ‘completely’ belong to the hegemonic majority, and that the interplay between the two is one about the prerogative to stake claims, and to sanction meanings. In other words, it is an unequal relationship of power.
Archiving is a fantastic possibility to rescue artifacts, and hence culture(s), into the present, and the future. But the act of archiving, and the archive itself, are monitored. When Derrida (1995: 9 – 10) describes the origins of the Latin and French words for archive, respectively archivum and archive, he traces its etymology - the word’s own archive - back to the Greek arkheion, the place, or house, of the archons, of those, who commanded. Thus it is the archons, that decide what comes into their house, and surveillance its hermeneutics. Both, the Archive and the Archivist, are ruled by, and at the same time enact, mechanisms of selection and thus, of power. This mechanism of selecting and giving meaning to the selected derives ultimately in a generation of History. As Taylor (2006:69) puts it: “we might go so far as to say that events are not necessarily entered into history and archived because they are pivotal, but that they become pivotal by virtue od the fact that they are entered into history and archived”.
When Anderson described the category of ‘imagined communities’, he spoke of the census, the map and the museum as the three institutions which enabled colonial nations to imagine themselves (1983:163-164). Anderson does not name the archive, but, for the effect of this paper, I will boldly allow myself to add the archive onto this category.
I will take the case of Claire Cunningham, a British choreographer with a non-normative physicality and, using the method called by Arjun Appadurai (1997, cited in Saukko 2003) ‘multi-scaped and multi-sited analysis’ I will ask the following questions: How are identities negotiated, between a hegemonic and a minoritarian group? Which roles do museums and archives play, when they dedicate to specific segments of the population? Who can claim which ancestry?
Concluding: This paper seeks to question the complex negotiations between minoritarian and hegemonic populations in the moment of creating a shared memory, while paying special attention to the role of the archive in the act of constructing the group’s identity.
Drawing upon Derrida’s and Taylor’s thoughts about the acts of archiving and Anderson’s ideas of the ‘imagined communities’, I will discuss the double-edged politics implicated in the act of building dance archives, constructing dance memories, and imagining dance communities.
Iva Kontić, University of Arts in Belgrade--AGIT-PROP-FLASH-MOB
AGIT-PROP-FLASH-MOB analyses the role of the engaged art practice in the current socio-economic settings as well as the potential of art to be an active participant and the moving force behind the social changes. Its starting point is the problematic position the individuals are facing on the current labor market which frequently leaves them to their own means, making it more and more difficult for them to adapt and fit into the system in a way which would be in consistence to their approach to fighting for their existential and labor rights. In dealing with an aspect of the reality which has became an acute problem of global proportions in the past decade, the project finds its inspiration in the more and more popular phenomenon of public group dance within the workers’ protests as a creative means to express the collective dissatisfaction and the issues connected to the survival of the individual in the society of today and its economy frame.
AGIT-PROP-FLASH-MOB takes up its name from the popular contemporary phenomenon of flash-mob, often itself used by the mass media to describe the protest dances, and the agitprop practices of historical avant-garde of employing art for promotion of the political ideas and ideologies to the masses. Their key anthropological and poetic values are implemented in defining the work within the sphere of engaged performance and social art action, while at the same time a new function and meaning are being added to them in relation to the current thematic parameters. In re-contextualising the strategies of the avant-garde movements from the beginning of the 20th century, the project particularly refers to the revolutionary dance performances of New Dance Group and Workers Dance League; these american leftist dance companies were the pionirs in using dance as a form of collective protest and mobilization instrument for exposing the harsh social reality of workers and the labour class in direct response to the 1929 stock market crash followed by the Great Depression. Today, in the time of the Great Recession, it seems like those strategies can be once again at the core of the discussion about the functionality of art in terms of its relation to the everyday reality and its responsibility when it comes to the social issues. Yet, in an era deeply immerged in digital, telematic mass culture and saturated by the multitude of technological apparatuses - where the ideological enchantments are declared long overpassed - can there be a successful version of artistic activism similar to the past experiences inside the contemporary context? Through physical movement, can art agit the public and mobilise the social conscience in a common cause, or each action and gesture dissipates in the electronic ocean of shared experiences and sophisticate marketing forms?
AGIT-PROP-FLASH-MOB presents a series of public performances taking place in different geographic and social contexts, which are then transferred from everyday life space to the exhibition space in the form of video-sound installation. Organized in a city square, each performance involves a group of participants “recruited” via social networks, who collectively perform the choreography by following the instructions of movements on their mobile phones or mp3 players. The executed instructions are made out of the testimonies of various individuals from the local community on the most frequently repeated physical movement during their work experiences, so that every street intervention adapts to the context within which it takes place. The subsequent video-sound installations document the performances and offer insight into their choreography via audio recordings while creating a new perspective for the interpretation of the artistic gesture in the urban public space.
Hamish MacPherson, independent artist/ researcher, – 'Alt Prepping, somatic citizenship and choreographies of political discourse'
An overview of my on going practice-based research into choreographic environments and their role as spaces of political discourse.
How we think and talk about politics is never neutral. Reading a book, giving a speech to a class or a crowd, a discussion over dinner. Each of these has its own arrangements of people and things in space and times; and its own explicit and hidden rules of interaction. (What would be called scenography and scores in choreographic terms). And so how we think and talk about politics produces a politics of its own.
In my work I am interested in using games, installations and workshops to produce different structures for discourse, in particular ones that are embodied (playing into a concept of somatic citizenship); that allow for co-creation; and that allow the rules to be rewritten. My most recent practice – Alt Prepping (2016) – draws on traditional accounts of the state of nature, survivalist/ prepping movements (particularly popular in the US), divination and post apocalyptic fiction to produce a space in which participants self-organise to make preparations for some unknown futures.
Some ongoing research questions include: How do we start with what and who is in the room and have that kind of particularity as a starting point for political discourse? Is it possible to have such an open practice without it collapsing into just hanging out (although hanging out may be a legitimate mode of political discourse)? Would such approaches benefit from more mainstream recognition that they are even political forums or are they necessarily beyond that?
Tiran Mancharyan,University of St Andrew--‘Kings and Clowns’: The Portrayal of Political and Intellectual Leadership in Contemporary Egyptian Theatre, 1967-2014
My thesis aims at researching how the problem of leadership has been reflected in Egyptian plays written within 1967 and 2014. 1967 was a breakthrough point in the history of the Arab World in general and Egypt in particular. After the defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war it became apparent that the leadership in Egypt was experiencing a colossal loss of trust among the Egyptian society and intellectuals. As for 2014 it was the next year after the dramatic events of 2011-2013 in Egypt.
I will observe how the Egyptian plays written within these two dates reflect and simultaneously try to influence the general attitude of the society towards the leadership. In this respect, theatre assumes the role of intellectual leadership for its audience. In short, in my thesis by researching the characters of leaders and intellectuals in the plays I will show how the playwrights deal with the problem of leadership in Egypt in their writing.
I have chosen the plays by Abū-l-ʿIlā al-Salāmūnī (b. 1941) and Lenin al-Ramlī (b. 1945) as case studies for my thesis, because both al-Salāmūnī and al-Ramlī are representatives of the generation of Egyptian playwrights next to the golden age of Egyptian theatre and are active until today thus allowing us to see how the theme of leadership has been reflected in theatre from Nasser to Sisi.
Anika Marschall, University of Glasgow--Moving Towards and Beyond – Performing Protest in Contemporary Theatre
My research project Performing Human Rights seeks to trace, analyse and theorise the different agencies of theatre artists and ethical protest movements in their attempts at challenging the contemporary understanding of human rights. How does theatrical practice influence and contribute to the understanding of how human rights are constructed beyond law? What is mobilised when theatrical practices probe legal boundaries?
As part of my project, I will analyse contemporary dramaturgies of movement within aesthetic responses to the current so-called “refugee-crisis”. The “artworks” by German fringe theatre collective Centre for Political Beauty challenge current policies of migration and statelessness, and question audiences’ ethical stands. The involved artists aim to raise awareness for humanitarian issues to overcome what they call their audiences' “political apathy”. Their rhetoric and the imagery of their performances often seem to be radical, ideologist, and political: Centre for Political Beauty’s performance The First European Fall of the Wall (2014) tackled the issue of the effectively stateless position of displaced non-European individuals. In criticism of the Dublin Regulation and in protesting the increasing militarization of Europe’s border zone, the group announced that they would commit a “severe crime” by tearing down the European border fences in Greece. Consequently, their passage through Europe was convoyed by the respective national police forces. In 2015, their performance The Dead Are Coming comprised the exhumation of dead refugee bodies that drowned in the Mediterranean sea and that were buried in mass graves, their transportation to Berlin, and a public burial ceremony hold in the German capital. What seems to be crucial to the aesthetics of these performances is their ethical and political dubiousness, and how the artists––without making use of cultural irony––co-opt much of the vocabulary of “actual” political campaigns which then become distorted and inversed.
With regard to Centre for Political Beauty, it seems that theatre practices and political protest practices are unavoidably related through movement and mobilisation.This paper seeks to explore notions of movement and mobilisation with regard to an exemplary work by Centre for Political Beauty. Both these terms seem to create a performative transgression between politics and performance, between ethics and aesthetics. In doing so, they open up spaces for thinking towards different dramaturgies of movement and different forms of intervention, spaces for thinking towards public gatherings of bodies in movement and the visibility and staging of a illustrative body politic. My focus lies on activeness as moralising anthropological category in performances that happen outside of the theatre building and that aim to galvanise their audiences for action. What figures and actors are produced as 'active' through contemporary interventionist theatre practices? How are they produced and by whom?
Kristof Nagy, Central European University – Inconnu Group and Political Performance in Hungary (provisional title)
My current research focuses on the political performance of the Inconnu Group carried out in the 1980s, which, in contrast with the general tendencies of the 1980s’ Hungarian art aimed to offer a popular and performative critique of the actually existing socialism. The Inconnu Group emerged from the radical, but not directly political heritage of the Viennese Actionism, and became politically active after the police repression that followed their first, only artistically radical actions. Therefore, from the early 1980s the Inconnu Group started to express itself through both performativity and politics.
My argument is that the substance of the Inconnu Group’s self-expression was anger that they firstly articulated through their provocative performative actions, and when the state-power blocked this way of self-expression, the Group restructured this anger into a political one. Therefore, while in the early 1980s the Inconnu Group’s anger was embodied in masochistic body art actions, in the later period the Group provoked the state to take the position of the punisher and oppress them. This way they transformed this torture into art, just as they did earlier with the non-political self-torture. In this phase the fact of the state-oppression and its proofs became the core of the Inconnu Group’s performative political actions that culminated in the Fighting City exhibition in which, after the police confiscated the artworks, the Group exhibited the documents about the confiscation.
As a consequence of their political turn, for the mid-1980s the Inconnu Group became a distinctive part of the artistic life and the dissident politics of Hungary, by giving a performative edge to dissident politics, and providing a political extension to the generally apolitical local art scene. Nevertheless the radical politicization of the Inconnu Group led to a condition in which due to its extra-radicalism the Group lost its relationships in the art world, and the dissident politics remained their only reference point. At the same time, in the second half of the 1980s the Inconnu Group –according to its own criteria – could function successfully, and by constant confrontation with the state power they enriched the political opposition, formed mainly by armchair intellectuals, with a performative power.
In my research I ask the question of what were the factors that led the founders of the Group towards the far-right. My argument is that while in the early 1980s the Group expressed its anti-establishment anger through radical artistic actions, in the second half of the 1980s they channeled their anger mainly through politics towards the state power. Nevertheless, with the formation of liberal democracy in 1989 the anti-communist politics that the Group performed in the 1980s became hegemonic. Therefore, among these conditions the anti-establishment political performativity of the Inconnu Group was not sustainable anymore, however the Group’s artistic and political strength lied in the continuous expression of anti-establishment anger towards the state-power. Therefore, my argument is that the core members of the Group leaned towards the far-right, because that offered them channels to express their anti-establishment anger.
Julia Peetz, University of Surrey--Obama’s Tears – Political Rhetoric and the Performance of Outsider-ness
On 5 January, 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama shed tears during a televised speech at the White House while calling for stricter gun control legislation in the United States. With the tears, I argue, Obama performatively underscored a range of rhetorical gestures in his speech, all of which were aimed at aligning himself with the American public and against a conspiratorial Washington political culture dominated by gun lobbyists. Thus the speech rhetorically aligned the victims of inner-city gang violence with middle-class suburban families and the American voting public against a broken Washington legislature. Drawing on conspiracy scholar Peter Knight’s work on the mainstreaming of conspiracy culture in the United States and on the media-ethnographical work of political sociologist Jeffrey C. Alexander, I analyse how Obama’s tearful speech fits into America’s polarised political landscape.
Building on the distinction between sovereign and critical grammars of performative politics proposed by Michael Saward, I then examine why it might have been effective for the supposedly most powerful man in the world to co-opt an anti-establishment rhetoric to position himself as a dissident outsider to the Washington political elite at the top of which he might quite naturally be perceived to stand. Taking into account different conceptualizations of authenticity, I investigate how Obama’s tearful speech seeks to construct the U.S. President as an authentic person. In particular, I explore how Obama’s speech rhetorically and theatrically played on popular disenchantment with the political system and a rising tendency to see the system itself as a threat to American citizens’ rights and liberties in order to construct the President as an authentic infiltrator intent on purifying the false and corrupted system from within.
Finally, I argue that, while anti-establishment rhetoric might be a common and effective device when employed in times of widespread conspiracy culture and political polarization, Obama’s tears, which underscore this rhetoric, are a much more enigmatic performative gesture. The tears on the President’s cheeks were startling in their very real presence. Tears, after all, are usually a sign of uncontrollable emotion, yet one that can still be faked by those who possess the requisite acting skill. While Obama’s rhetoric thus cunningly played on popular disillusionment with politicians, the tears are a more provocative and polarizing gesture because, read as additional markers of authenticity, they require audiences to take an emotionally charged leap of faith in Obama’s performance of grief and powerlessness.
Sian Rees, Goldsmith College, University of London,– Play as a Mode of Resistance: Challenging the ‘Crisis of Imagination’
My research proposal considers the efficacy of play, games and folklore as a mode of resistance. According to Haiven, money has become the measure of our imaginations, affecting both our comprehension of, and actions upon, the world around us. He argues that, ‘Capitalism relies on conscripting our imaginations […] It relies on us imagining that the system is the natural expression of human nature, or that it is too powerful to be changed, or that no other system could ever be desirable.’ Haiven’s argument forces us to consider how far Thatcher’s rhetoric of ‘there is no alternative’ has worked. Increasingly inventive and creative forms of activism are drawn upon within contemporary social movements as a means of challenging this crisis of imagination, in making visible, however fleetingly, an alternative. Creativity acts to subvert, embody resistance, reclaim space, perform and enact democracy and make real, as Emma Goldman famously declared, ‘everyone’s right to radiant, beautiful things’. Yet, how far can such techniques serve to articulate complex arguments and ideas? Do the forms of play and games simply distract from fundamental issues, and, due to increasing popularity, risk becoming institutionalised?
I propose playful dissent to be a pivotal and effective tool of resistance, taking on a multifaceted role in making activism more sustainable. For, play is an active, all-encompassing form which is embedded within the present. Further, when applying play to political action, it allows activists to collapse distinctions between means and ends, focusing instead upon the possibility of realising change in the present. In creating a Temporary Autonomous Zone, drawing upon performance and pervasive games, activists can share experiences of ‘meaning making and imagination that can capture fleeting intimations of a better world.’
Drawing upon the cases of the Climate Games and my own practice-as-research, I seek to analyse what the effects of ludic participation have upon participants. Organized by the Lab of Insurrectionary Imagination, the Climate Games have been described in many ways; from ‘neo-Brechtian theatre’ to ‘an innovative form of political engagement’ , from ‘mass participation transmedia action framework’ to ‘a large-scale experiment in horizontalist and rebellious movement building’ or ‘Climactivists go creepy; channel Hunger Games, Matrix to mobilize “disobedience” anarchy for Paris’ My research seeks to examine the efficacy of the Climate Games as a mode of resistance against the Conference of Parties 2015 and the first round of my practice, which utilizes the pervasive gaming mode structure to challenge the politics of austerity.
Promona Sengupta, JNU--Acts of Dissent in the Age of Neoliberal Democracy: A Performance History of Four Youth Movements from Asia between 2012 and 2015
This research attempts to explore the various modes in which dissent is performed by protesters participating in social and political movements in the contemporary world. It takes four examples of protest movements from the recent past in four major cities in Asia – the Umbrella Movement of 2014 in Hong Kong, the Sunflower Movement of 2014 in Taipei, the Shahbag Protests of 2013 in Dhaka and the Nirbhaya Protests of 2012 in New Delhi – as unique instances of large numbers of young people taking to the streets, occupying prominent public spaces, demanding democratic rights and freedoms, and social and historical justice. Aiming to historicize the performative modes of dissent within the contextual specificity of each of the case studies, the research nonetheless attempts to map the similarities in them, exploring the possibility of a consolidated repertoire of contemporary protest performance shaped within a post-socialist world. The research also attempts to explore the political and affective potential of the social category of “youth” by interrogating the specific performative roles that young people play within the particular performances of these four protests – roles such as “student”, “worker”, “consumer”, “dissident” etc. The research aims to interrogate if participation in such movements enables young people to understand and relate to power differently and realize any radical potential within the logic of governmentality in contemporary liberal democracy, which appears to be able to “solve” all genuine political contestations, negating the necessity for these performances of dissent.
In presenting some of my initial methodological approaches and research questions, I would attempt to map out the way in which I plan to pursue this research, in the process opening up a discussion on the extent to which the political performances mentioned in the research proposal can be contextualized historically. What does the contemporary world have to learn from histories of dissent and protest movements? The attempt, at this stage, would be to test the tenability of my research questions and methodological approaches, in order to move ahead towards detailed on-field research.
Ruxandra Todosi, Nottingham University, ”Veiling as Performing Dissent: Contexts of Minority Representation in Britain Today
Veils divide. Beyond various geographies and symbols, they produce the body as its focal subject and object. They organize, substantiate, reshape positions and relations. By regulating form, they grant directed access to the individual, and guard against potential violation — social, physical, metaphoric. Covering by veiling (e.g., through practices such as hijab, niqab, or burqa informed by Islamic tradition) fragments the image of the wearer and breaks it down to intent and representation: the act of displaying a scarf over one’s hair alone can be a multi dissentious, challenging cultural exercise, involving a broad array of practical, symbolic and stylistic elements — e.g., complying with religious texts, while clashing with Western politics, customs and stereotypes.
This paper sets out to explore the role of dissent through visual representations, along with performative factors of difference, in the politicization of Islamic veils. A range of examples reflective of both ‘Eastern’ and Western cultural elements will be analyzed and compared.
Paul Whitehouse, University of Warwick--Performance and Pedagogy: Making Play in the Secondary School Classroom
The Performance and Pedagogy Project, launched in 2013, has been designed to help raise attainment in English through a performance-focused pedagogical approach that places younger learners in the position of active practitioner. With support from academic and teaching staff at the University of Warwick and participating schools, MA students devise and deliver an innovative scheme of work over the period of two academic terms that explores the work of William Shakespeare, his world, and politics through modes of performance and creative engagement with the text. This does not represent a simple rebranding of traditional drama classes, but a performance-based approach to the study of literature. A guiding ethos of the project is that performance can unlock new readings and experiences that help to engage younger learners and encourage them to apply similar approaches to the way they read their own cultural worlds.
In previous years the work has focused on readings of power and agency in Henry IV Part I, with lower school pupils keen to explore the power of literature to subvert, mock, and expose hierarchal power, hubris and unchecked political ambition. This presentation will share some of the challenges of establishing such a programme, managing long-term objectives, and how we believe that creative, student-led performance should be central to any effective pedagogy. At a time when school drama departments are closing in record numbers and the Education Secretary publically derides the value of the Arts and an Arts education, Performance and Pedagogy seeks to reconnect younger learners, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, with the intellectual benefits of making play, ensemble learning, and the reward of decoding complex ideas in a nurturing environment.
With this presentation I hope to initiate a discussion about the role performance can play in way our children learn about themselves and their place in the world. I would also be grateful for suggestions about how performance can become a more visible interdisciplinary component that extends beyond the English and Drama classroom. Finding a voice and participating in collective action, be that a performance and/or an act of resistance, is an integral part of children's worlds, even if their voice is seldom heard.