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Colloquium - November 8-11, 2010

Research Colloquiam on

History, Memory, Event and the Politics of Performamce

8-11 November 2010, Coventry, UK



We chose to investigate the period between 1970 and 1990 (with appropriate recognition and correction for problems of periodization) under the theme: ‘History, Memory, Event and the Politics of Performance’. Our focus is on the relationships between the socio-political history of the period and the memory/narration of sequences, constellations and events that appear as theatre, dance, and other performing arts forms. Reciprocally, we investigate how these sites of performance also become places of political creation and reflection. Working together to construct an ‘archive’ of materials from India and the West, we expand our knowledge of each other’s local and national memorial markers while also collaborating on comparativist (and constrastive) research strategies. We are building clusters of documents and audio-visual resources in support of a selection of key performances that either responded to events or provoked them, establishing an archive mapping politics and performance in India and selected sites in the West.

 Brief outline of Research Objectives and Outcomes: The research objectives were/are:

• How to engage performance comparatively East/West without ignoring, on the one hand, or reifying, on the other, colonial/postcolonial history?

• How to conduct national performance research in relation to global politics, local contexts, and across cultural differences?

• How best to research and present the performance history of the recent past in light of contemporary methods of theatre historiography?

• How to establish a strong enough knowledge base in common to allow us to mutually build upon and enrich singular insights.

The proposed outcomes were 1)to establish a strong/deep base of mutual knowledge and understanding for future collaborations, 2) to focus on sharing and discussion of archives materials prepared for each other taken from the period of 1970-1990 that document the relationship between important events in India and selected sites in the West and various important performances occurring at the time, 3) to involve early career scholars and post docs as equal partners with more senior figures, 4) to lay the groundwork for a joint publication. (We are now preparing a ‘critical dossier’ of the experience for publication in Theatre Research International, a leading journal in our field. It has been commissioned and will be published in 2012. The archive materials are also present on a website, locked at the present time, but eventually open to the public.)

During the week of November 8th, 2010, staff from the School of Art and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi) and staff from the School of Theatre, Performance, and Cultural Policy Studies, (Warwick), held discussions concerning an archive of materials they had jointly constructed concerning the years 1970-1990, mapping the politics of performance in India and selected sites in the West, showing the connections and the developments that flow between/against India and the European-American-world scenario, choosing some landmark performances for close analysis as exemplars. Building on previous discussions held in Delhi in March 2010, this dialogue developed such themes as codifying the political within the body, the crisis of complex temporalities in cultural negotiation, and the process by which narratives about the nation enter into representation through performance, and thus into collective memory. As part of the week's events, there was an open public event and a planning session for a co-authored dossier to be prepared for publication in a referreed journal. Subsequent to this colloquium, it was published in Theatre Research International. Here is the citation:

‘Dossier: History, Memory, Event, A Working Archive’ (with N.Anan et al) Theatre Research International 37.2 (2012): 163-83.