CATR Montreal May 28-31 2010: Seminar: Revisiting Intersections of Performance and Ethnography

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Canadian Association for Theatre Research
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The 2010 conference of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) will take place at Concordia University in Montreal, May 28 to 31, as part of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The theme of the 2010 Congress is “Le savoir branché/Interconnected Knowledge.”


Seminar 4: Revisiting Intersections of Performance and EthnographyLisa Wolford-Wylam (York University) AbstractThe most common origin myth of Performance Studies credits the intersection between theatre and anthropology (and thus the collaborations of Richard Schechner and Victor Turner) with giving birth to the field. Conversations foundational to the discipline flourished in the 70s and early 80s, prior to the apogee of anthropology’s interrogation of its own representational practices. Consequently, the models of anthropological inquiry that had most impact on the early development of Performance Studies were limited by the discipline’s complicity with colonialist projects, marred by a relative lack of self-reflexivity regarding the power dynamics of its praxis.  This seminar invites participants to reconsider the points of contact between theatre and anthropology, with particular attention to the more nuanced ethical and theoretical grids developed by politicized anthropologists in the wake of postcolonial interrogations of their practice Questions 1. How can paradigms of analysis derived from social sciences and other humanities fields productively inform theatre and performance scholarship? 2. In what ways are the ethical dynamics of participant-observation research methods reconfigured in the creation and analysis of theatrical work?3. How do interdisciplinary methodologies of performance research open new possibilities for understanding the political, social, and material dimensions of theatre and performance practices?  Working PlanProspective seminar participants will be asked to submit an abstract of 250 words outlining their proposed research project to Lisa Wolford-Wylam ( by December 1, 2009. The seminar will be limited to twelve members.  Participants will be notified of their acceptance by January 20, 2010. The number of participants will be limited to 10-12 to enable focused dialogue and interaction. Selected participants will distribute their papers to group members no later than April 30. Each participant will be paired with another contributor who will be responsible for articulating the critical intervention made by their partner’s work and teasing out key points for discussion among the larger group, initially via website and subsequently at the CATR conference. The temporal and geographic proximity of the 2010 Congress “Interconnected Knowledge” with PSi 16, “Performing Publics” (Toronto, June 9-13, 2010) creates opportunities for productive crossover between the two events and their respective constituencies.


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