Towards an Anti-Racist Dance Research
|Dates:||18 May 2021|
|Times:||14:00 - 15:30|
|What is it:||Webinar|
|Organiser:||Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE)|
|Who is it for:||University staff, Adults, Alumni, Current University students|
|Speaker:||Royona Mitra, Arabella Stanger|
In this talk we reflect, as two colleagues and friends, on expectations, doubts, and discoveries arising from our collaborative, anti-racist research project on contemporary dance in the UK. “Contemporary Dance and Whiteness” was funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grant and undertaken in 2019 by Simon Ellis (Coventry University), Royona Mitra (Brunel University London), and Arabella Stanger (University of Sussex). The project set out to understand the covert cultures of white supremacy structuring a field of practice that has formed itself around values of artistic freedom, equality and inclusion. Faced, at the close of the project timeline, with our funding body’s expectations that we report on “any advances in knowledge or understanding resulting from the research”, in this talk we begin from a place of stumbling over the imperialist implications of ideas such as ‘advancement’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘result’. Instead we ask: how might we work to unsettle the racist mechanisms of knowledge production and dissemination naturalised in British academia, and in which we are complicit, despite what we thought were our commitments to anti-racist research?
Advocating for a critical understanding of dance driven by lived experiences of oppression, conflict and struggle, we take up activist and scholarly critiques of notions of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), a paradigm that authorises the active obstruction of racial justice in both academic inquiries and industrial policy-making in relation to dance, race and racism. Motivated by such critiques, here we try out a mode of listening and thinking together that aims for mutual honesty about our project’s own obstruction of racial justice in its perpetuation of extractive modes of thinking, collaboration, administration and dissemination. Through these reflections we wonder how an anti-racist dance research could really work, moving towards modalities of practice that centre scepticism over celebration, struggle over harmony, activism over conciliation, and the aim of becoming accomplices over allies.
Read more about the Contemporary Dance and Whiteness collaborative research project here: http://danceandwhiteness.coventry.ac.uk/
This event will be delivered over Zoom. Please register on Eventbrite for details.
Role: Reader in Dance and Performance Cultures
Organisation: Brunel University London
Biography: Royona Mitra is Reader in Dance and Performance Cultures at Brunel University London where she is also Associate Dean of Equality and Diversity for the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences. She is the author of Akram Khan: Dancing New Interculturalism (Palgrave; 2015) which was awarded the 2017 de la Torre Bueno First Book Award by the Dance Studies Association (DSA) and her scholarship contributes to discourses on new interculturalism, antiracism and decoloniality in dance and theatre studies. She is a member of ‘Revolution or Nothing’, a network for Black and Global Majority scholars in UK dance, theatre and performance studies, and an advocate for coalitional approaches towards anti-oppression in the academy.
Role: Lecturer in Drama: Theatre and Performance
Organisation: University of Sussex
Biography: Arabella Stanger is Lecturer in Drama: Theatre and Performance at the University of Sussex. She is author of Dancing on Violent Ground: Utopia as Dispossession in Euro-American Theatre Dance (Northwestern University Press; Sept 2021), a book about the forms of racial violence grounding utopian dance modernisms. With Mimi Haddon and Michael Lawrence she is co-editing the volume Disco!: Music, Dance and Style, and is embarking on new research on rebellious bodies at sea. As an academic, educator and trade unionist, she collaborates with colleagues and students to tackle racist structures in British higher education.
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