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The Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas is working to develop a robust network of Canadian scholars interested in a broad range of issues around the relation of performance and politics in the Americas, linking them to the well-established capacities, innovations and structures of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (New York University). Two inter-related, central research questions motivate the insight dimensions of this project:

  • to investigate the distinctive ethical-political dimensions of the American hemisphere as a site of social, cultural and political agency while imagining, conceptualizing and positioning Canada as itself centrally an ‘American’ nation. From the historical fact of the conquest, to the contemporary emergence of distinct issues (disappearances, indigenous rights, social dislocation and migration and so on), the American hemisphere offers a rich field of comparisons that researchers based in Canada could fruitfully engage.

  • to explore as a second, related question, the dialogues and insights that emerging performance studies approaches offer to scholars across a wide variety of disciplines and sites in Canada. Performance studies can include the study of performance artists, socially embedded everyday-life gestures, the meaning of citizenship, the articulation of gender difference, or enactment of ritual in a religious context, to specify a few sites of investigation. Politics is a central concern but rather than the politics of formal institutions our lens is aimed at wider issues of cultural politics.

The primary goal is to produce research on political performance that will situate Canada within the broad cultural and geographic context of the Americas. This complex and strategically important nexus of topics involves questioning the established Eurocentric positioning of Canada as well as the emerging Asian pacific positioning of Canada’s west coast, and instead teasing out the layers and traces of Canada’s cultural position in the Americas. This would involve, for example, examining the relevance of the work of performance artists in a now established art form to political questions of social justice and human rights; finding and focusing attention on issues such as indigenous involvement in or exclusion from the national culture, the disappearances of specific social or political groups, the aesthetic response to national historical traumas, the place of truth and/or reconciliation commissions in national cultural politics, the role of religion in national politics, issues which are compelling in different but related manners across many hemispheric nations.

Our specific objectives are:

  1. To develop a Canadian Consortium in connection to the Hemispheric Institute that will promote outstanding interdisciplinary research on performance and politics in Canada.

  2. To review the existing state of Latin American and Performance studies in Canada in order to determine the viability and potential for increased intersections between the two areas.

  3. To illustrate the value of performance studies techniques and methodologies for social science and humanities scholarship in a wide range of topic areas in Canada.

  4. To develop digital archive and dissemination facilities in order to construct a repository for ensuring safe storage and transmission of performances, discussions and publications.

  5. To foster stronger connections between those academic, artistic and social justice communities who have an interest in performance, within Canada and between Canada and the rest of the hemisphere.