This volume investigates performance cultures as rich and dynamic environments of knowledge practice through which distinctive epistemologies are continuously (re)generated, cultivated and celebrated. Epistemologies are dynamic formations of rules, tools and procedures not only for understanding but also for doing knowledges.
This volume deals in particular with epistemological challenges posed by practices and processes of interweaving performance cultures. These challenges arise in artistic and academic contexts because of hierarchies between epistemologies. European colonialism worked determinedly, violently and often with devastating effects on instituting and sustaining a hegemony of modern Euro-American rules of knowing in many parts of the world. Therefore, Interweaving Epistemologies critically interrogates the (im)possibilities of interweaving epistemologies in artistic and academic contexts today. Writing from diverse geographical locations and knowledge cultures, the book’s contributors—philosophers and political scientists as well as practitioners and scholars of theater, performance and dance—investigate prevailing forms of epistemic ignorance and violence. They introduce key concepts and theories that enable critique of unequal power relations between epistemologies. Moreover, contributions explore historical cases of interweaving epistemologies and examine innovative present-day methods of working across and through epistemological divides in nonhegemonic, sustainable, creative and critical ways.
Ideal for practitioners, students and researchers of theater, performance and dance, Interweaving Epistemologies emphasizes the urgent need to acknowledge, study and promote epistemological plurality and diversity in practices of performance-making as well as in scholarship on theater and performance around the globe today.
List of Figures
List of Contributors
Introduction: Performance Cultures as Epistemic Cultures — Developing Inter-Epistemic Approaches and Methodologies
PART I – Concepts, theories and methods
- The Cognitive Empire: Epistemic Injustices and Resurgent Decolonization
- Principles of Interweaving Epistemologies
- Reconstituting the Destituted: How Decolonial and De-Western Interweaving Works
- Confronting the Colonial Matrix of Power: Critical Intersections of Interculturality and Decoloniality in Performance Practice
- Staging Border Epistemologies: The Cross-Cultural Cartographies of an Artwork (Berlin, Galway, Seoul)
- Performance as Method: Critical Approaches to the Western Episteme
- Complex Smoking: On Brecht, Tobacco and Bourgeois Philosophy
- The Epistemic Politics of Indian Classical Dance
- Performance or "Comportamento"? Names and Epistemologies of Performance Art
Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
Walter D. Mignolo
PART II – Analyzing inter-epistemic performances
PART III – Exploring inter-epistemic histories
Epilogue: Decolonial Aesthetics in Theater and Performance — Theatrical Strategies of Delinking
Rustom Bharucha, Walter Mignolo, Torsten Jost and Christel Weiler
Anurima Banerji is Associate Professor at the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. She is author of the monograph Dancing Odissi: Paratopic Performances of Gender and State, which won the 2020 de la Torre Bueno award from the Dance Studies Association. She served as co-editor, with Violaine Roussel, of How to Do Politics with Art (2017); and with Prarthana Purkayastha, of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Indian Dance. Her writings have appeared in the journals About Performance, EPW, Women and Performance, and the edited volumes Planes of Composition: Dance, Theory and the Global (2009), The Moving Space: Women and Dance (2018), and The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Reenactment (2017), among other publications. She was also part of a team of writers and scholars associated with the exhibition A Slightly Curving Place, presented at HKW Berlin and Alserkal Arts Foundation, Dubai.
Rustom Bharucha retired as Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. He is author of many books, including Theatre and the World (Routledge, 1993), Terror and Performance (Routledge 2014), Another Asia (2006), and the upcoming Second Wave: Reflections on the Pandemic Through Photography, Performance and Public Culture (Seagull, 2022).
Erika Fischer-Lichte is director of the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures" at Freie Universität Berlin. From 1973 to 1996, she was Professor of Modern German Literature, Comparative Literature and Theater Studies at the universities of Frankfurt am Main, Bayreuth and Mainz. In 1996, she joined the faculty of the Theater and Performance Studies department at Freie Universität Berlin. Between 1995 and 1999, she served as President of the International Federation for Theatre Research. She is a member of the Academia Europaea, the Academy of Sciences, Göttingen, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has held Visiting Professorships in China, India, Japan, Russia, Norway, Brazil, and the US. Her research interests and recent as well as forthcoming publications focus on the interweaving of performance cultures in the context of historical and contemporary forms of globalization; transformative aesthetics; performances of ancient Greek tragedies since 1800 worldwide; and performance-related concepts in non-European languages. Recent monographs (in English) include: The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics (Routledge 2008), The Routledge Introduction to Theater and Performance Studies (2014), Dionysus Resurrected: Performances of Euripides’ The Bacchae in a Globalizing World (Wiley-Blackwell 2014) and Tragedy’s Endurance: Performances of Greek Tragedies and Cultural Identity in Germany since 1800 (Oxford University Press 2017).
Tancredi Gusman is Assistant Professor at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata." His research focuses on the history of theater and performance practices, addressing in particular performance and documentation, German theater and criticism, and aesthetics and theater theories. He published the monograph The Harp and the Sling: Kerr, Ihering, and the German Theatre Criticism from the End of the Nineteenth Century to National Socialism (2016; orig. Italian) and translated the Italian edition (2014) of Erika Fischer-Lichte’s The Transformative Power of Performance. He has authored book chapters and published articles in international journals such as Contemporary Theatre Review, Forum Modernes Theater and Acting Archives.
Torsten Jost is a researcher and academic coordinator at the Cluster of Excellence Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective at Freie Universität Berlin. After receiving his PhD from Freie Universität Berlin in 2017, he joined the faculty of the university’s Theater and Performance Studies Department, where he teaches courses in the bachelor’s and master’s degree program. In 2018, Jost was invited as a guest lecturer by the Shanghai Theater Academy, China. His dissertation, which was nominated for the Ernst- Reuter-Prize, was published by Wilhelm Fink Verlag under the title Gertrude Stein: Nervosität und das Theater (2019, Gertrude Stein: Nervousness and the Theater). Together with Erika Fischer-Lichte, he has coedited numerous books on theater and performance in German and English, including The Politics of Interweaving Performance Cultures: Beyond Postcolonialism (Routledge, 2014), Theatrical Speech Acts: Performing Language: Politics, Translations, Embodiments (Routledge, 2020), Dramaturgies of Interweaving: Engaging Audiences in an Entangled World (Routledge, 2021) and Entangled Performance Histories: New Approaches to Theater Historiography (Routledge, forthcoming).
Milos Kosic studied Creative Writing at the City College of New York and English Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. He is a research associate at the International Research Center Interweaving Performance Cultures, Freie Universität Berlin, where he is working on his PhD thesis on the epistemic violence present at university-level creative writing programs across the U.S.
Walter Mignolo is William H. Wannamaker Professor Emeritus of Literature at Duke University. He received his PhD from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris. Before coming to Duke in January 1993, he taught at the Universities of Toulouse, Indiana and Michigan. He has published extensively on semiotics and literary theory, and has in the past years been working on different aspects of the modern/colonial world and exploring concepts such as global coloniality, the geopolitics of knowledge, transmodernity, border thinking, and di/pluriversalities. His numerous publications include Local Histories/Global Designs (Princeton University Press, 2012), The Darker Side of Western Modernity (Duke University Press, 2011) and On Decoloniality (Duke University Press, 2018).
Andrej Mirčev is a performance studies scholar, dramaturge, and visual artist. He received his PhD from Freie Universität Berlin. From 2017 to 2018, Mirčev was fellow at the International Research Center “Interweaving Performance Cultures” in Berlin. His research focuses are spatial theory, archives, intermediality, critical theory, and performance. His latest publications include Left Performance Histories (2018, coeditor) and Red People: Everything Dived (2019, coauthor). He is Guest Professor at the University of Arts and Design in Karlsruhe and Associate Lecturer at the Department of Stage Design, University of Arts Berlin, and the Institute for Applied Theater Studies in Gießen.
Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Professor and Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South with Emphasis on Africa at the University of Bayreuth in Germany. He previously worked as Research Professor and Director of Scholarship in the Department of Leadership and Transformation (DLT) in the Principal and Vice-Chancellor’s Office at the University of South Africa (UNISA), South Africa. His latest major publications are Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization (Routledge, July 2018); Rethinking and Unthinking Development: Perspectives on Inequality and Poverty in South Africa and Zimbabwe (Berghahn Books, March 2019) coedited with Busani Mpofu; and Decolonization, Development and Knowledge in Africa: Turning Over A New Leaf (Routledge, May 2020).
Nicholas Ridout is Professor of Theatre at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of Stage Fright, Animals and Other Theatrical Problems (Cambridge 2006), Theatre & Ethics (Palgrave 2009), Passionate Amateurs: Theatre, Communism and Love (Michigan 2013) and Scenes from Bourgeois Life (Michigan 2020), as well as essays in edited collections and peer- reviewed journals. He was the Editor of Theatre Survey (2016-18) and is co-editor of the book series, Performance Works at Northwestern University Press. He has held visiting fellowships and professorships at Brown University, the Huntington Library, and the Centre for Interweaving Performance Cultures at the Freie Universität in Berlin.
Sundar Sarukkai works primarily in the realm of philosophy of natural and social sciences. He is the author of Translating the World: Science and Language, Philosophy of Symmetry, Indian Philosophy and Philosophy of Science, What is Science? and two books co-authored with Gopal Guru – The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory and most recently Experience, Caste and the Everyday Social. His book titled JRD Tata and the Ethics of Philanthropy was published in July 2020. Sarukkai is the founder of the Barefoot Philosophers initiative (www.barefootphilosophers.org).
Astrid Schenka is a performing arts scholar, dramaturg, and translator. She currently works as a Research Associate at the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures" at the Freie Universität Berlin as well as a guest lecturer at the Zurich University of the Arts. Following her studies in Theater, Film, and Television Studies as well as English Language and Literature in Bochum/Vienna and many periods of work abroad, she worked at the FU Berlin, at spielzeit’europa – Berliner Festspiele and for the German Federal Cultural Foundation, among other places. Her work focuses on theory and practice of contemporary performing arts, interweaving performance cultures, postcolonialism, theory and practice of translation, aesthetics and art theory as well as object theater and object theories. In 2020, Aisthesis published her dissertation Performing in Plain Sight: Poetics of the Mechanical in Contemporary Performing Arts (orig. German).
Małgorzata Sugiera is a Full Professor at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, and Head of the Department for Performativity Studies. She was a Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, DAAD, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna, the American Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures" at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research concentrates on performativity theories, speculative and decolonial studies, particularly in the context of the history of science. She has published twelve single-authored books, the most recent of which are Nieludzie: Donosy ze sztucznych natur (2015, Non- humans: Reports from Nonnatural Natures) and, together with Mateusz Borowski, Sztuczne natury: Performanse technonauki i sztuki (2017, Artificial Natures: Performances of Technoscience and Arts). She has coedited several books in English and German, most recently Crisis and Communitas: Performative Concepts of Commonality in Arts and Politics (2022). She translates scholarly books and theater plays from English, German and French. She carries out the three-year international research project Epidemics and Communities in Critical Theories, Artistic Practices and Speculative Fabulations of the Last Decades funded by the National Science Centre (NCN).
Christel Weiler joined the faculty of the Theater and Performance Studies Department at Freie Universität Berlin in 1996, together with Erika Fischer-Lichte. From 2008 to 2017, she held the position of Program Director at the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures," where she now serves as Senior Adviser. Her research interests focus on interweaving performance cultures, specifically with regard to performance analysis, acting and aesthetics.