“Performing Cartography”: Theatre and Performance Studies graduate symposium
York University’s fifth annual Theatre and Performance Studies Graduate Symposium, Performing Cartography, features a full day of talks, panels, performances and installation works on April 29.
The symposium takes place on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Wendat Nation, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario at York’s Keele campus.
Organized by Megan Davies, Signy Lynch and Elan Marchinko, all PhD candidates in Theatre & Performance Studies, the symposium considers Canada as it nears its 150th birthday (2017) and reflects on the significance of looking back to consider the circumstances surrounding that birth.
While carving out its own space, Canada violently displaced and dispossessed Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. One of the ways this displacement and dispossession was (and continues to be) enacted is through the cartographic eye of the colonizer.
Thinking about the performative act of cartography and how it has helped shape the settler state Canada, this symposium inquires what performance and Indigenous forms of mapping can contribute to embodied or other alternative forms of mapping.
A highlight of the symposium is the keynote address by Mishuana Goeman, associate professor in American Indian Studies and vice-chair of the Gender Studies Department at UCLA.
Keynote: “Electric Lights, Tourist Sights: Gendering Dispossession and Colonial Infrastructure at the Niagara Falls Border”
Goeman will discuss how Niagara Falls, widely considered a key marker of the boundary between the US and Canada, is for Seneca people the place where the Thunder Beings reside — and thus a site that is instrumental to the Seneca experience of place.
Built up as a tourist draw in the early 1900s and later marketed as a honeymoon capital, Niagara Falls has become an important geographical area for Goeman’s research, examining state-produced space (such as the creation of monuments and jurisdictions) and Indigenous place-making (such as the reflection of experiences through intergenerational stories regarding specific sites, that in turn produce a value system).
Niagara Falls becomes a site of biopolitical power in which American and Canadian settlers come to know themselves by not only sacrificing the Indian maiden, but literally sacrificing Haudenosuanee histories, land, water and meanings of place. Investigating visual postcards, romanticized propaganda, and the work of Seneca choreographer Rosy Simas, as well as unpacking a history of the development of hydroelectric power and technologies, Goeman explores the fissures and contradictions in settler/colonial placemaking and brings a broader awareness of geographies and storytelling that refuse to silence the power of the Thunder Beings.
Other symposium highlights include:
• Re-Manifestations:An anarchivist (re)mapping of place
Re-Manifestations, an installation by Kim McLeod and Helene Vosters explores and invites participants to intervene in the popular narrative of Canada as a settled nation.
• Artist Talk by Sandra Laronde
Sandra Laronde , the founder and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Indigenous Canadian performance company Red Sky, delivers a talk on Backbone, a cutting-edge new dance creation inspired by the ‘spine’ of the Americas, that combines contemporary Indigenous dance with athleticism to express power, formation and spirit.
• Talking Treaties Audio Gallery
In spring 2015, Jumblies Theatre and First Story collected interviews with local historians, educators, and public figures about their relationship to, and understanding of, Indigenous treaties in Toronto. The responses were edited into four five-minute audio tracks that serve as inspiration and content for a large-scale, multi-year performance creation taking place at Jumblies Theatre’s The Ground Floor and in hands-on workshops across Toronto.
The Performing Cartography symposium is sponsored by the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design; Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost; Faculty of Graduate Studies; Office of the Vice-Provost Academic; Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies; Department of Theatre, Graduate Program in Theatre & Performance Studies; Theatre and Performance Studies Graduate Students Association; Department of Dance; Department of History; and Department of Geography at York University.