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The Hemispheric South/s Research Initiative
Department of English, University of California at Santa Barbara
“BPT 2011 :: Hemispheres & Souths”


The Hemispheric South/s Research Initiative is very pleased to host the 2011 meeting of the Black Performance Theory working group, “BPT 2011 :: Hemispheres & Souths” happening May 6-7, 2011 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. At each meeting, a small cadre of scholars and practitioners share work in experimental sessions that have included dance performances, play readings, poetry and solo performance work, film screenings, flash animation presentations, and the creation of group improvisations. A space for active Witnessing allows audience members to engage productively with Participants’ contributions.
This year’s overarching theme draws inspiration from contemplations of black meetings and crossings in hemispheric and global souths. BPT:: “Hemispheres & Souths” invokes the vast and broad oceanic and land-based circulations of black performance. The 2011 working group seeks to link the translations, transmigrations, transnationalisms, and diasporisms implied by the notions of a Hemispheric South and a Global South to performance as practice and to nuances of race as performance. Participants’ work constitutes a provocation that suggests unexpected routes of diaspora across "Hemispheres" and "Souths." Presentations can be partially literary, but contain an element of performance.

In preparing an offering for the group this year, Participants take up the overarching concept of a cardinal point like "South" or "West," “East” or “North” and work it through a combination of texts and/or scholarly works. For example, presenters might pick an imaginary place like the "dirty dirty South" and theorize it through Appurandi, Wyclef Jean, and Zora Neale Hurston to offer a hybrid performance of black social dance circa 1920 and 1990. Other imaginative structures might include “Up South,” “Down South,” “Southsides,”  “Pacific Rims,” “Atlantic Rims,” “Black Cities,” “Black Wests,” “I-lands, ”“Promised Lands”... etc . to theorize Black "Hemispheres & Souths" in performance.

Participants work in teams to construct creative presentation formats beyond the traditional conference-style reading of prepared papers. In this way BPT:: “Hemispheres & Souths” facilitates live, creative collaborative adventures in theory and performance.

The Black Performance Theory working group is a collective of scholars working on the theory, history, and practice of African American expressive cultures. The experience of writing and performing theory links scholars and scholar/performers in unique modalities of conversation, debate, and collaboration. Diverse disciplinary perspectives provide an unbounded look at performative commonalities of African diaspora including, but not limited to, gospel music, concert dance, hip hop music, black church oratory, architecture and public space theory, theater historiography, and queer cultures. We strive for vibrant critical discussion of methodologies, paradigms, and approaches to theorizing black performance.
This eighth invitation-based convening of BPT elaborates an exciting tradition of innovation inaugurated by Thomas DeFrantz and Richard Green in 1998. Working Group Meetings have included:
•"Race and Representation," organized and hosted by Richard Green, Duke University, 1998;
•"African American Performativity," Thomas DeFrantz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000;
•“Black Performance Theory: Theorizing as if Race Matters," DeFrantz and Green, Stanford University, 2002;    
•"De/Cipherin' Practices," Anna B. Scott, UC Irvine, 2003;
•“Contingent Geographies of Blackness,” Ananya Chatterjea, University of Minnesota, 2004;
•“Crossroads in Global Performance,” Annemarie Bean, Williams College, 2006;
•“Black Performance Theory,” E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University, 2007; •”Afrosonics: Grammars of Black Sound,” Daphne Brooks and DeFrantz, co-sponsored by the Afro-American Cultural Center, African American Studies and the World Performance Project, Yale University, 2009.

Since 2000, each event has received funding and administrative support from SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology, the research group founded by Thomas DeFrantz at MIT.  
The group functions as a site for intellectual creativity, for communal consideration of foundational concepts in performance theory, and as a much-needed opening into the space of performance discourse as it might be inflected black.

BPT 2011 Program and Information (click here)
Directions to McCune Room in IHC (for events of May 6th), UCSB (see above BPT info sheet)

Directions to Loma Pelona Room (for events of May 7th), UCSB (click here)


BPT Official Page: http://web.mit.edu/bpt/bpt2011.html  or http://web.mit.edu/bpt/purpose.htm)
BPT Participant Bios: http://web.mit.edu/bpt/bpt2011.html


Article on Hemispheric Studies (Ralph Bauer Article attached)
Selected Bibliography of Hemispheric American Studies (attached)
Selected Bibliography of Global Southern Studies (attached)