Hemi Graduate Student Initiative (Hemi GSI) Fifth Convergence

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Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
Hemi Graduate Student Initiative (Hemi GSI) Fifth Convergence

Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies

October 5-8, 2017 | York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Call for General Participation

Deadline: June 5, 2017

Convergence speaks to the intersection of multiple perspectives, ideas, and bodies—to a confluence, a meeting point, an encounter. Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies is an invitation to respond critically, aesthetically, and kinetically to the idea of “meeting grounds”—inflected, as it is, with histories of settlement, displacement, and resettlement throughout the Americas. Whereas hospitality invokes a series of guest-host/mover-stayer relations centered on (solicited) encounters, radical hospitalities deal with ethics of gathering and imply a new way of being together that can be both utopic and politically generative. Intimate geographiesilluminate those micropolitical domains—bodies, spaces, and relations—which inform and are informed by social and cultural frameworks. Unsettling implies a movement, a shift from being idle towards becoming undone, being challenged, being in discomfort, shifting perspectives, unlearning or learning anew. Unsettling the Americas, then, is an invitation to unsettle as well as to be unsettled: to evaluate our own locations in relation to each other and within our respective colonial histories.

In Canada, these histories became particularly relevant in November 2015, when the government announced the sponsorship of over 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country. International press agencies depicted Canada’s hospitality as a contrast to the rhetorics of fear and paranoia that have met and excluded refugees and immigrants elsewhere. However, recent suicide crises in First Nations communities across Canada raise important questions regarding Canadian settler colonialism and international relationalities. What intimate gestures and imaginative spaces have the capacity to generate new political possibilities or alternative networks of care, or transcend a politics as-is? How can we generate spaces that acknowledge shared and conflicted histories while making room to restructure institutional, inter/intracultural, and colonial relations? How might we oppose growing isolationist/nationalist movements? How might migrant mobilities and discourses of multiculturalism emerge from and exacerbate the structures of settler colonialism? How can we unsettle (artistic, activist, academic) institutionalisms? Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies invites reflection on these domains of overlap and difference: how do we enact and contest the intimate frontiers of coloniality, and what it means to host and to be hosted, in colonized spaces? What does it mean to gather on colonized land? Convergence 2017 falls on the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, and/or Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and marks an ideal time to discuss and contest the politics of gathering.

The Convergence 2017 organizers invite interested graduate students and emerging scholars, artists, and activists to submit proposals to participate in one of our workgroups or workshops. To apply, create one PDF document with all the application materials and email it to hemigsi@gmail.com by no later than June 5, 2017. Please include the name of the workgroup/workshop that you are applying to in the email’s subject heading.

See workgroup and workshop descriptions below.

Workgroup/Workshop Descriptions

1) Migrant Citizenship Imaginaries Beyond the Neoliberal State

Co-Conveners: Megan Bailon (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Andreea S. Micu (Northwestern University), Jimena Ortuzar (University of Toronto)

The recent surge in migration and the current global advance of fascism gives historical urgency to considering migrant grassroots initiatives that negotiate cultural differences under duress. With growing numbers of migrants confined to detention centers or refugee camps and the rise of a new sanctuary movement, a poetics of containment (enforced by the state and the market) as well as excess (from resistant practices) guides our thinking. This workgroup explores how displaced populations imagine and enact alternative modes of belonging that resist the state and its embrace of free market ideology. We seek to understand how everyday activism, intimate encounters, and place-making strategies emerging from this tension between mobility and confinement engender possibilities for organized forms of resistance and solidarity outside the bounds of formal citizenship. We encourage applications that consider or expand on the following questions:

  • In what ways is the performance event a radical encounter between performer(s) and spectator(s) that creates moments of intimacy that enact or imagine new ways of relating, looking beyond a politics of inclusion?
  • How might performance bridge the gap between radical emancipatory ideologies and everyday sustained actions and commitments?
  • How do displaced populations mobilize aesthetic practices to shape the construction of affordable, equitable, and liveable urban spaces?
  • How are notions of (neo)liberal frameworks of citizenship and belonging resisted, contested, and transformed by displaced populations? What are some of the emerging, alternative, precarious ways of articulating citizenship and belonging within and against these (neo)liberal frameworks?
  • How might migrant practices unsettle binary formations foundational to the nation-state: inside/outside, inclusion/exclusion, citizen/noncitizen?
  • How are such practices drawing on converging histories and present realities to enact possible futures within and beyond the state?

To apply please submit:

  1. Short Bio (up to 100 words)
  2. Project Proposal related to these topics (up to 300 words)
  3. Artist Portfolio (if applicable)

2) Unsettling Creative Collaboration

Co-Conveners: Claudia Bernal (Université du Québec à Montréal), Em Piro (York University), André Rosa (Universidade de Coimbra), and Leah Wilks (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Through multilingual conversation, movement practices, vocalization, and other creative exercises we will explore the interlocking themes of Body, Space and Identity. Collaboratively, we will create an artistic intervention that unsettles the notion of fixed borders as the primary way we build our subjectivities. What does it mean to unsettle our geographies, our genders, our sexualities, our nationalities, our races, our ages, our abilities, our desires to “get it” and understand linguistically? What new spaces of creative possibility open when we don’t begin with a language—whether corporeal or discursive—in common? How do we create practices of, and spaces for, intimacy as a group of “strangers?” How do we practice being present in the unknown?

There might be costumes, opera, monologues, sculptures, performances, readings, dance parties…the world(s) we construct will be determined by the intersecting questions, desires, and practices of the participants. That said, this workshop is not limited to those with an already pre-existing artistic practice. We ask only that you show up with an open mind and a curiosity about creative collaboration.

Pre-Convergence, we will host a virtual sharing of materials—small texts, visuals, sounds—that stimulate our imaginations.

At Convergence, we will collaboratively contaminate and dismantle our ways of meaning-making through games, exercises, interventions and rituals. While much of our communication will happen through the body, we also will engage in conversations in a variety of different spoken languages—bring whichever one(s) you have—we will probably invent others—and a sense of humor.

To apply, please submit:

  1. Short Statement of Interest
  2. Brief Bio. We would like to know a bit about who you are, what questions are driving you right now, and any creative practices/skills you have in your back pocket. Please tell us where you currently live (you can include where you are from as well if that feels important), what language(s) you speak and levels of proficiency, what your preferred gender pronouns are, what makes you tick about interdisciplinary practice and if you willing to show your work in progress.

3) Experimental Collectivities, Collaborations, and (Dis)embodied Digital Experiences

Co-Conveners: Santiago Tavera (Concordia University) and Candace Thompson (Hunter College)

Themes

The notion of “identity,” at once self-expressive and societally repressive, is a concept that indebts us and indentures us. Messy, disharmonious, and—like all of us—ever mutable, self-definition is a malleable tool: a knife capable of both destruction and construction. Learning to wield it skillfully is a crucial task.

Moreover, how do we create artistic frameworks that enable the exploration of individuality within the context of a collective space? How can our polyvocality rewrite the notion of “truth” in nuanced shades of gray? In a world where intelligence is preferentially stored on servers and chips, what information are we failing to access in the hard drives and software of our bodies? When the data we find within is corrupted by personal and historical traumas, what tools can we access for self-exploration and healing? How do we bring what we find there to bear on our work as digital media makers, thinkers, activists, and citizens? If the goal of global synthesis/convergence is futile or undesirable, then what alternatives can we establish in hopes of our collective survival?

Objectives/Framework

Our workshop will set off towards these questions with no hope of arrival. We will generate a social collaboration between participants working towards conflict resolutions between collective and subjective narratives, our histories, and our illusions of the future. Using collaboratively created ritual we will establish an experimental environment for embodied and disembodied media making. The use of digital media presents the potential to simulate a state of disembodiment (elasticity, translation…), allowing for the alteration of participants’ senses, while pushing the boundaries of their perceptual thresholds and understanding of space, selves, and others. Questions of location and displacement, migration and transience, cultural heirlooms, trauma, and personal narratives—both real and imagined—can be brought to bear in creating work which integrates audio and video recording techniques, projection mapping, AR, installation, and performance.

We ask that all participants come ready to speak their own respective truths while empathetically listening to and creating space for the truths of others.

To apply, please submit:

  1. Short Bio (up to 250 words)
  2. Statement of interest (up to 500 words)
  3. Links to website or related work if relevant.

4) Sensoriality and the City: Cartographies of Subjectivity

Co-Conveners: Amanda Gutierrez (Universitat de Girona), Aurelio Meza (Concordia University), and Cristina Alejandra Jiménez Gómez (Universidad Distrital)

This workgroup/shop seeks to explore the concepts of hostility and hospitality within the intersections of space, sensoriality, urban life, perception, representation, and relational art. We want to problematize the legitimacy of the map as a domination technique by contrasting it with individual and subjective cartographies that allow a relationship with the city not structured by urban planning. We are interested in exploring the embodied experience of an urban space through the senses (hearing and sight mostly, but also smell, touch, and taste), using the sensory walk as a research tool on experience and identification of cultural codes. These techniques will allow us to recognize the gestures of urban life, its dynamics and temporalities. What is the imprint of the city on the human body and its gestures? How to document or intervene in spaces marked by certain subjectivities in/of the city (hostile places, places of desire, etc.) in relation to social, economic or political aspects? Is an ethical approach to social dynamics possible through sensory immersion? Our methodology and work dynamic will focus on the embodied and sensorial experience through the compilation, re-interpretation and intervention of audio-visual documents (mainly maps, photos, audio clips and video).

To apply, please submit:

  1. Short Bio (200 words)
  2. Statement of artistic/research interest in relation to the themes of the workshop (250 words)
  3. Project proposal (if any) that you want to develop (200 words) or material related to the interests of the workshop. All formats are accepted: performance documentation, text, audio, video, photography, etc.
  4. Portfolio or link to your artwork (if applicable)

5) Dis-performing: Disability and Performance Working Group

Co-Conveners: Ashley McAskill (Concordia University), Marga Sequeira Cabrera (University of Costa Rica), and Andrés López (Indiana University)

How are artists, academics, theorists, and activists shifting/moving/unsettling understandings and performances of disability within various geographies? How are they disrupting prior pathologized legacies of disability? How does disability, whether visible, less visible, and/or invisible, shift ways of being in this world? How does this diverge with other paradigms within geography, gender, and sexuality? Focusing on the geographical complexity from where our working group members come, we will explore geography’s role, both culturally and physically, in setting conditions and limitations to how different bodies can and do interact everyday. Such geographies—whether local, micro, and/or intimate—have ultimately informed our understandings and perceptions about what it means to be “abled” and “disabled”.

Interested in capturing an array of international, multi-lingual, differential mobile, lived experience, and TAB (temporarily abled body) perspectives on and with disability, this working group will explore the diverse and complex ways geography affects and shapes perceptions and performances of disability. Inviting all complex human beings that identify in the all-too-many-ways-to-cite, we will workshop and discuss in what ways disability produces generative ways of being. Using new perspectives, including some emerging from “crip theory,” we will situate disability as an important performed mode of inquiry (See Hemi Performance & Disability 2014 working group description). This work will begin with how we imagine our own communication and working group structure, and representation and presentation of our own work to our fellow members.

To apply, please submit:

  1. CV
  2. Short Bio
  3. Statement of Interest (250-300 words)
  4. Expectations for and hopeful outcomes of the working group
  5. Please share anything you feel will be important to include for the space we will be hosting our working group in (ex. Quiet space? Chalk board? Computer table? Type of lighting?)

6) Movements at the End of the World: Inhumanist Kinship and Care as Minoritarian Performance

Co-Conveners: Lilian Mengesha (Brown University), Patricia Gomes (NYU), and James McMaster (NYU)

What forms of care and kinship are required for the survival and sustainability of inhuman life as we approach irrecoverable ecological destruction? To speak of inhuman life is not only to acknowledge the vitality of things, plants, and animals from within the Anthropocene, but also to recognize the minoritarian subjects for whom the category of the Human has historically been inhospitable. For these under-siege constituencies—people of color, queer and trans individuals, women, indigenous peoples, the disabled—survival takes hold within alternative structures of kinship that organize and are organized by the collective performance of care that reproduces life itself. Within several indigenous ontologies, the human is one minor node in a greater network of kin-making. When and how does performance, among other creative practices, offer a way of being beyond our species? What modalities of movement are required to shift our stance, to re-evaluate the terms of engagement to which we have been disciplined? In accordance with “Unsettling the Americas,” this workshop seeks to map the intimate geographies of kinship and care that sustain inhumanity alongside artists, scholars, and activists tired with the worn-out category of the Human. Ours is a mission to unsettle a version of the enlightened Euro-centric human that Caribbean philosopher Sylvia Wynter has simply called “Man.” We welcome academics, artists, and activists to join us in our collective study of resistance movements, care-full interdependencies, and more-than-human life-worlds.

To apply, please submit:

  1. CV
  2. Short Bio (100 words)
  3. Statement of Interest (200 words) pertaining to a scholarly paper, aesthetic intervention, or activist project.

Selected participants will circulate their work with the group by September 5, giving the group a month to prepare collective responses.

Possible Submission Topics:

Geo-corporealities, shape-shifting, and cartographies of struggle
Queer, indigenous, and diasporic challenges to heteronormative kinship arrangements
Settlers of color, refugees and the ethics of decolonial care and coalition building
Feeling and hapticality; emotional and affective sustenance
Reproductive labor and transnational/women of color feminisms
Posthuman/inhuman kinship
After the Enlightenment.
Crip epistemologies as caring epistemologies
Land-based art and performance as sites of knowledge
Weather, climate(s), and atmosphere(s) as stages

7) Mapping Queer Intimate Geographies / Finding Refugia: Decolonizing Bodies, Places, and Identities

Co-conveners: Agustín Liarte Tiloca (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba) Matthew Robin-Nye (Concordia University) and Joshua L. Truett (Ohio State University)

This working group is interested in exploring queer “intimate geographies.” What are the spaces that can be mapped through intimacy, how do we map cartographies based on desire, refuge and local/community practices? The idea of cartography is a great metaphor to analyze body and erotic practices—among others—because the body can be a territory for social struggles, and is in a continued process of transformation. How can we think and make towards the creation of a ‘queer utopic space,’ a wildness which evolves alongside a continually renewing present; or, the production of multiplicities through fabulation in performance, installation, text-based and conceptual practice? Can identity/practices be a place, a state, or stance?

We are interested in the practices and bodies that (de)structure and decolonialize both hetero and homonormative spaces and identities. How do bodies and practices create ruptures in normative logics and structures? Can we find refuge in “queer utopic spaces?” Or in indigenous practices and knowledge? In “deviant” pleasures and places? How do we find these alternate routes? How do we map them in our artistic and scholarly work? Our working group aims to analyze social-artistic-erotic practices that construct different ways of understanding bodies, places and identities.

To apply, please submit:

  1. CV/Resume (3 pages max)
  2. Short bio (150–200 words)
  3. A proposal (200–300 words) that articulates your particular interests within the themes articulated above
  4. Your expectations for the workgroup: What would you like to do/make/discuss as part of this workgroup? (Please limit your response to a few sentences)

Note: We welcome proposals from artist, scholars, and artist/scholars that engage with a wide array of practices, places, and types of intimacies.

8) Unsettling Transnational Relationality: Indigeneity and Solidarity Across Border

Co-conveners: Katherine Achacoso (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa), Zoë Heyn-Jones (York University) & Casey Mecija (University of Toronto)

This working group invites artists, scholars, activists, community leaders and cultural workers to think otherwise about questions of Indigeneity, solidarity, and border crossings. We invite participants to engage with the Indigenous-settler binary to explore how relationships of diaspora, migration, settler responsibility, and solidarity can be reimagined while remaining rooted in site specificity. Together we will visit various community spaces in order to explore how physical sites work in conversation with performative strategies to enable, sustain, and feed these relationships. We will reflect on how settler states in the Americas can be characterized by various forms of social theatre and how Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies have laboured to creatively and emotionally perform against it. We welcome participants and cultural practitioners to reflect on the ethical tensions and entry points that arise when engaging with indigeneity through performance. Together we will also address the questions: What is the creative work of settler colonialism? What might the creative work of decolonial performances look like? How do we create and sustain meaningful relationships with each other and with the lands upon which we dwell? How do virtual spaces complicate the notion of site specificity? How can we meaningfully work towards reconciliation from complex and complicated subject positions? (How) are these positions embodied, enacted, and performed? What kinds of responsibility do these relationships require?

To apply, please submit:

  1. CV
  2. Bio (150 words)
  3. Statement of Interest (250 words)

9) Cartographies and Memory as Practices of Relational Knowledge Production

Co-conveners: Adina Radosh Sverdlin (Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México, UIA), María del Carmen Macías (UIA), Silvia Muñoz (UIA), Carolina Céspedes Arce (UIA) and Constanza Millán (UIA)

Cartography allows us to observe social phenomena through different spatial and analytical scales. In that sense, we can infer that cartography refers to the way in which spaces and people or groups relate to each other. As such, we propose to reflect on cartography as a way of producing relational knowledge. For this, the theoretical and methodological debate will focus on the influences and overlaps between cartography, memory, space and time. We will discuss the potentialities and limitations of cartography, in a way that seeks to represent, allude, and manifest those flows, emotions, potencies and senses that often exceed (usually visual) representations.

We seek to reflect on these themes through a participatory working group in which the co-conveners won’t be only ones presenting their research and reflections; but instead form a learning circle where participants will also contribute with their experiences and questions. We want to address cartography as an epistemology and methodology of marking space in relation to mobility due to forced displacement, religious pilgrimages, and quotidian collective or individual trajectories.

For these purposes, we have delineated three initial points of conversation:

  • Starting from a mutual interpellation between people and spaces, we shall open the discussion by asking whether space has agency or if this is exclusive to humans
  • Representational cartography. We propose to locate in a Cartesian plane the movements and convergences between space and social actor.
  • Other cartographies. Knowledges from other disciplines, epistemologies, and experiences.

The workgroup is open to interested participants coming from different disciplines and experiences.

To apply, please submit:

  1. Short bio (150–200 words)
  2. Statement of purpose and experience in relation to the theme (250 words)
  3. Expectations for the workgroup (200 words max)

10) Unsettled ‘Micro-Life’: Contested Lifeforms in Colonial and Decolonial Encounters

Co-conveners: Justin Abraham Linds (NYU), Marc Arthur (NYU), and Kelly Klein (Ohio State University)

This workshop will consider colonial and decolonial bodily encounters with micro-life, which we define as life forms, materials, or communities ranging from the microscopic to the microcosmic that are disputed, variously rendered, and alternately experienced within the frameworks of medicine, artistic practice, food/agriculture, sex/sexuality, and more. Examples of micro-life include but are not limited to micro-organisms, bodily fluids, chemical matter, and animal life. How does micro-life trouble our understandings of the human-self as an autonomous subject, and what possibilities does this open for more sustainable, just, and livable ways of self- and world-making? What are we to make of utopic thinking and artistic creations articulated around micro-life that may be dangerous, trans-boundary, and possibly lethal?

At Convergence, we are interested in archiving practices and events that enact intimate gestures of connection with human and nonhuman “others” and construct imaginative spaces of belonging that transcend the possessive subject of (neo)liberalism. Through writing, discussion, and movement, participants will be asked to consider how difficult to categorize life forms might unsettle the human and human encounters but also might reaffirm the human’s coherence.

Before we meet, participants will be asked to read some primary and secondary texts and to offer a short response paper or a sample of documentation from a performance (video or images). Each meeting at Convergence will begin with performative thought-experiments with improvised movement and other artistic explorations of “cellular awareness.” As a concluding event, we will visit Toronto’s Centre Island to meet with artists and activists at Artscape Gibraltar Point to help us think through the history of human and nonhuman inhabitants in this unsettled territory.

To apply, please submit:

  1. A short statement of interest (200–400 words) describing a form of ‘micro-life’ you wish to engage throughout the workshop. Participants might engage a micro-life and a historical, artistic, or theoretical engagement with that life form that is related to colonial or decolonial encounters. Alternately, participants can engage with and describe the paradigms, disciplines, and discourses that articulate our bodies at microscopic scales (see above).
  2. A short artistic or professional biography (up to 250 words)
  3. An example of academic writing or artistic creation (up to 4 pages for the writing sample. If you choose to submit a whole paper, please indicate which pages should be read).

11) Thanksgiving Hangover

Co-conveners: Sarah Ashford Hart (University of California Davis), David McIntosh, and Farrah Miranda (York University).

Thanksgiving Hangover is an unsettling breakfast conversation about socially-engaged food art. Arriving together in a particular time and place, participants and facilitators comprise an imagined community. Sommelier David McIntosh will offer a selection of mimosas and other boozy beverages. This gesture invites the group to taste settler colonialism’s lies, aspirations, and desires in relation to agricultural histories. Artist Farrah Miranda’s mobile roadside fruit-stand and design studio will provide a visual backdrop to this workshop. From it, she will serve an assortment of fruits and vegetables grown and harvested by migrant workers on Indigenous lands. The project invites audiences to consider the possibilities of socially-engaged art in sharing strategies and building alliances across decolonization, racial justice, food justice, and labour justice movements.

Sarah Hart will facilitate a dialogical performance among those at the table (the people and the products we consume). Through a playful framework that calls attention to the power dynamics of communication, we will exchange perspectives on how we situate ourselves within the global ecology of tastes. We will digest the unpalatable story of colonization, the (un)marking of bodies through the discordant narrative of the nation state. We will call into question notions of community and belonging, asking who “we” are and how we converge here. We will acknowledge the things we will never know about one another’s (and the produce’s) trajectories to reach this place, especially those who are absent. We will reflect on the production and consumption of food and identities as our point of interaction.

To apply, please submit:

  1. A short statement (200 words) describing why you are interested in participating, and what you hope to contribute to and/or take away from our Thanksgiving Hangover. Statements may include reference to participants’ practical or theoretical interests or questions in relation to the workshops themes of socially-engaged food art, decolonization and dialogue (Please also mention any food allergies or other special considerations).
  2. A short artistic or professional biography (100 words).
  3. Links to examples of academic writing or artistic creation are also welcome if relevant.