Unsettling Colonial Geographies with Performative Arts Practice 1

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Balcony M, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Organizers: Heather McLean, Sarah De Leeuw
Chairs: Sarah De Leeuw


Curator and writer Glen Alteen once wrote, "performance art has always been a queer practice… Its lack of restriction made it a form many queer artists chose to reflect concerns which had never been voiced” (Alteen in Cowan, 2012). Increasingly, feminist, anti-colonial and queer geographers demonstrate how performance-based interventions including (but not limited to) cabaret, comedy, slam poetry, dance and storytelling can open up novel spaces and ways of thinking about and expressing space, place, and human relationships with and within the world (Nagar, 2011; Noxolo, 2017; de Leeuw and Hawkins, 2017)). Such practices create language spaces, geo-graphing possibilities that refuse and unsettle logical, linear and coherent work that risks reproducing colonial violence (de Leeuw, 2017). Drawing from Performance Studies and Women and Gender Studies, as well as embodied arts practices, such creative acts de-centre the heteronormative colonial histories of the discipline of geography and critique the elitism of arts practice and academic knowledge production. Performance-based interventions also create spaces to forge solidarities with artists and activists across sites and scales (Nagar, 2011). For example, drag kinging and alter-ego performance offer ways for minoritarian subjects to engage in what Muñoz (1999) refers to as disidentification, the act of co-opting, recycling and rethinking this violently encoded meaning to include and validate minority identities. Through these acts, artists craft radical counterpublics, or ‘communities and relational chains of resistance that contest the dominant public sphere’ (Muñoz,1999) and challenge the white heteronormativity of majoritarian cultural production. Moreover, such interventions create radical counterpublics for feminist and queer women performers to contest the classist, racist, gendered and ableist performances that pass for our foundational normative modes of thought and behaviour in our everyday lives (Halberstam, 1997).

As feminist, anti-colonial geographers committed to de-centering white heteronormative forms of academic knowledge and production through arts-based interventions, we invite geographers engaging in politicized arts practice to share their work. We are especially interested in scholars traversing theory and arts praxis, in scholars who embody diverse positions and subjectivities, and in participants eager to push the boundaries of acceptability.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Priscilla Vaz UNC at Chapel Hill 15
Panelist Darren Patrick York University 15
Panelist Margaret Ramirez University of Washington, Seattle 15
Panelist Heather McLean University of Glasgow 15

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