1st Edition

Object Performance in the Black Atlantic The United States

By Paulette Richards Copyright 2024
    312 Pages 82 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    312 Pages 82 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Given that slaveholders prohibited the creation of African-style performing objects, is there a traceable connection between traditional African puppets, masks, and performing objects and contemporary African American puppetry? This study approaches the question by looking at the whole performance complex surrounding African performing objects and examines the material culture of object performance.

    Object Performance in the Black Atlantic argues that since human beings can attribute private, personal meanings to objects obtained for personal use such as dolls, vessels, and quilts, the lines of material culture continuity between African and African American object performance run through objects that performed in ritual rather than theatrical capacity. Split into three parts, this book starts by outlining the spaces where the African American object performance complex persisted through the period of slavery. Part Two traces how African Americans began to reclaim object performance in the era of Jim Crow segregation and Part Three details how increased educational and economic opportunities along with new media technologies enabled African Americans to use performing objects as a powerful mode of resistance to the objectification of Black bodies.

    This is an essential study for any students of puppetry and material performance, and particularly those concerned with African American performance and performance in North America more broadly.

    Part 1: The African American Object Performance Complex  1. Introduction to the African American Object Performance Complex  2. Minkisi: Ritual Objects as Lines of Resistance  3. Mechanical Negroes  4. African American Story Cycles  5. The Evidence of Things Not Seen: Object Performance in African American Dance  6. Music is Our Mother Tongue: Object Performance in African American Music  Part 2: African American Object Performance Overcoming Jim Crow  7. From Minstrelsy to Vaudeville: John W. Cooper Crafts an Entrée  8. Shadows Uplifted: African American Object Performance under Jim Crow  9. Creating Communities  10. Throwing Voice: African American Ventriloquists  11. In the Image of God: Puppet Ministry and Object Performance in the Black Church  12. Political Activism and African American Object Performance  Part 3: Object Performance in African American Dramatic Presentations  13. African American Puppet Modernism: Alice Swann and the Wonderland Puppet Theatre  14. Staging Stories: African American Folktales and Puppet Theater  15. Object Performance in African American Visual Art  16. African Americans and Object Performance in American Theater  17. African American Puppet Film  18. African American Puppetry in Social Media  19. The Substance of Things Hoped for: Contemporary African American Puppet Theater

    Biography

    Paulette Richards is an independent researcher and puppet artist. Co-curator of the Living Objects: African American Puppetry exhibit at the University of Connecticut’s Ballard Institute and Museum with Dr. John Bell, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, USA.