Analyzing Activist Bodies. A Forum on Methodologies of Research on Activism

Samstag, 01.10.
10:00–11:30 Uhr

Forum, in englischer Sprache, Seminarzentrum Raum L115

Moderation: Katja Schneider

In activist interventions, the presence of bodies marks a specific urgency: the risk of one’s life attests to the seriousness of the issue and at the same time presents a challenge to the analysis of activism. Theater- and dance studies, as disciplines for which the behavior and relationships of bodies are central objects of inquiry, have a specific responsibility to address activist interventions – it is indeed urgent for these fields to conceptualize activist creative interventions. How do we research and write about such events, where do the boundaries between performance and activism blur? Are our established methods sufficient, and are they useful? Or is there a need to re-envision approaches that are compatible with current activist practices, that are thus differently responsive to the urgency of the concerns? Is this how the continued privileged status of researching of and/or articulating about in theatre and dance studies might be challenged by participatory methods? 

“Analyzing Activist Bodies. A Forum on Methodologies of Research on Activism” discusses these questions of methodologies. Short impulse talks from international researchers from different disciplines (theater, dance, literature, and dramaturgy) will address the topic of activism and methodology from five different foci. Alexander H. Schwan discusses how spirituality in contemporary dance fosters non-affirmative resilience. Lindsey Drury addresses a history of Native American body-based resistance to the “Code of Indian Offenses” that illegalized Indigenous dance and ceremonial practices. Andrej Mirčev focuses on iconoclasm in selected performances from Southeastern Europe that showcase the politico-religious power mechanisms of the post-socialist state through subversive gender staging and non-conformist embodiment. Susanne Foellmer addresses the concept of vulnerable bodies in protest. Not least since the covid-19 pandemic, the corporeality of risk is accompanied by another narrative: the one of protection which has been frequently articulated through choreographic means of assigning campaigns on site. Nina Tolksdorf focuses on bodies that have to withdraw into virtuality in order to appear at all, and shows to what extent methods from theater and dance studies are needed to analyze activist digital literature.

Alexander H. Schwan: Tough Spirituality in Contemporary Dance

Lindsey Drury: Dancing Bodies between Political Activism and Indigenous Survivance

Andrej Mirčev: Iconoclastic Activism: Subverting Gender Representations in Contemporary South-East European Performance

Susanne Foellmer: Safeguarding. Vulnerable Bodies Between Protection and Risk

Nina Tolksdorf: The Virtuality of Literary Activism: Towards a Performative Understanding of Online Literature  

Dr. Lindsey Drury, Research-Track Postdoc at EXC “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective”, Freie Universität Berlin (DE). Research focus: Settler colonial history and performance studies, concepts of indigeneity in dance history, data and digitally oriented historical methods, dance and the ‘ethnological’ archive. 

Prof. Dr. Susanne Foellmer, Professor in Dance Studies, Coventry University/Centre for Dance Research (UK). Research focus: Aesthetic theory and corporeality in contemporary dance, performance, and in the Weimar Era, interrelations between dance and ‘other’ media, materiality and politicality of performance.

Dr. Andrej Mirčev, Guest Professor at the University of Arts Berlin (DE). Research focus: Intermediality, spatial Theory, visual studies, archives and performance, interrelations between practice and theory. 

Dr. Alexander H. Schwan, Visiting Research Fellow, Graduate Theological Union Berkeley, Center for the Arts & Religion (USA). Research focus: Theologies of modern dance, spirituality and resilience in contemporary dance, ethics of dance, green spirituality. 

Dr. Nina Tolksdorf, Associated Researcher at EXC “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective”, Freie Universität Berlin (DE). Research focus: German literature at the intersection of performance and theater studies, literature of the digital age, materiality of literature in its different media.