Presentations as Performance at Academic Conferences

Authors: Cydney Seigerman*, University of Georgia
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Water Resources and Hydrology, Arid Regions
Keywords: subjectivity, performance, knowledge, water, Brazil
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The presentation of a paper is a performance. At conferences, the PowerPoint presentation—slides filled with visual symbols including text, maps, photos, and diagrams—is the standard for structuring our performance as researchers. As the “presenter,” we use the visual aids projected behind us to represent and explain our findings. While our tone may be more formal or more conversational, we are fulfilling our role as presenter for our audience in this academic performance of knowledge sharing. Overall, this method of presentation has proven quite efficient to relay information to our peers. However, are there other ways through which we can effectively convey our message in academic settings? During the “Creative Expressions” session of the 2018 Integrative Conservation Conference (Athens, GA), I presented my research on the role of scientific knowledge in water management in northeast Brazil through prose accompanied by choreographed movement phrases. The prose narrated the story of the interplay of river-basin committees and the state, as the choreography expressed my lived experience during fieldwork. Like the now-traditional PowerPoint presentation, the performance shared my perspectives. At the same time, the performance made more salient my subjectivity of performer/presenter and the process of interpretation by the audience. I will present my work in two parts: first I will present my research in the Jaguaribe Valley through the performance of prose and choreography, and then I will discuss the process of creation prior to and the day of the performance at the Conference last fall, comparing the subjectivity of presenter and performer.

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