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Aquatopia documents Harmattan Theater’s ecological interventions and traces its engagements with water-bound landscapes, colonial histories, climate change, and public space across New York City, Venice, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Cochin. The volume uses Harmattan’s site-specific performances as a point of departure to consider climate change and rising sea levels as geographical, ecological, and urban phenomena. Instead of a collection of flat, static surfaces, the Aquatopia atlas is animated by a disorienting, anti-mapping strategy, producing a deterritorialized, nomadic, fluid atlas unfolding in real time as an archive of climate change in multidimensional, active space. The book is designed for pedagogical access, with interludes that consolidate the learning outcomes of the experimental theory animating each site-specific performance.
Accompanied by close descriptions of five performances and supplemented by digital documentation available online, this volume intervenes in discussions on climate change, urbanism, and postcolonization/decolonialization, and contributes to interdisciplinary studies of ecology and environmental politics, postcolonial/decolonial theories and practices, performance studies and aesthetics, in particular public art, and performance as research.
Table of Contents
Climate Precarity and Performance
Opening the World: Climate for Real
1. Storm as Method: Climate Performatives
May Joseph and Sofia Varino
Interlude: Aquatopia (2017)
2. Multidirectional Thalassology: Comparative Lagoon Ecologies
May Joseph and Sofia Varino
Interlude: Acqua Alta (2014)
3. Harmattan Theater as Oceanic Praxis: Why Water Matters to Performance
Interlude: Far Rockaway (2013)
4. Terrestrial Becomings: Walking for Climate
Interlude: Mar Português (2012)
5. Anthropogenic Citizens, Environmental Agents
Interlude: Sea Dike (2014)
6. Queering Climate: Ecologies of Historical Radiance
Harmattan Wind: Climate Change Aesthetics and the Nonhuman
Toward a Somatic Ecology: Harmattan Performs
May Joseph is Founder of Harmattan Theater, Professor of Social Science at the Pratt Institute, and author of the ghosts of lumumba; Sealog: Indian Ocean to New York; Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination; and Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship. Joseph is co-editor of Terra Aqua: The Amphibious Lifeworlds of Coastal and Maritime South Asia and of Performing Hybridity. She co-edits three book series from Routledge: Critical Climate Studies, Ocean and Island Studies, and Kaleidoscope: Ethnography, Art, Architecture and Archaeology. Joseph creates site-specific performances along Dutch and Portugese maritime routes exploring climate issues. Visit www.mayjoseph.com.
Sofia Varino is a writer and public scholar whose work focuses on radical thought and practice, cutting across political ecology, history and philosophy of science, and transdisciplinary gender studies. They have published in journals like Whatever, SHIMA, European Journal of Women’s Studies, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, and co-edited a special issue of Somatechnics on data and gender in the life sciences. Varino is a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the minor cosmopolitanisms research training group, a cooperation established among the University of Potsdam, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and Freie Universität Berlin in Germany. Visit sofiavarino.com.