Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis.
Book: Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis.
Written by: Dwight Conquergood, Edited by: E. Patrick Johnson
Published by: The University of Michigan, 2013
The book is a collection of Dwight Conquergood’s writings, posthumously published under the editorship of Patrick Johanson. Introducing Conquergood and his work, Johnson also includes critical responses from distinguished scholars—from Micaela Leonardo, Judith Hamera, Soyini Madison, Della Pollock to Joseph Roach. Considering Conquergood’s work chronologically within his conceptual framework, Johnson divided the volume into four sections— Performance, Ethnography, Praxis, and Critical Responses. The 1st section, Performance, delineates the foundation of Conwuergood’s approach with his essays such as Performing Cultures; Interventions and Radical Research; Toward a Performative Cultural Politics. Drawing from theories and methods in cultural anthropology, Conquergood explains the Interpretive Turn in human lives believing that the best way to understand the meaning of lives and resistance against oppression is to study how people perform their identities and speak against the power through performing it. The 2nd section, Ethnography, with his collection of essays, frames ethnographic field research as performance arguing research as doing performance through which the ethnographic divide between doing fieldwork and writing ethnography, the tension between field notes and footnotes can be bridged. The 3rd section, Praxis, makes readers engage with Conquergood’s theories and methods of performance through case studies collected from his ethnographic fieldwork. For instance, one of the essays addresses health theatre in a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand while another essay talks about Performance Rituals of State Killing in the context of the US justice system. Each case study here presents how to do performance ethnographic research with ethical responsibility, critical engagement, and a careful examination of the uneven system of power.
“Performance studies struggles to open the space between analysis and action, and to pull the pin on the binary opposition between theory and practice” (p.33).Cultural Struggles- Performance, Ethnography, Praxis