Convergence 2012 | The Geo/Body Politics of Emancipation

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November 9–12, 2012
Duke University

Call For Participation

The year 2011 marked an explosion of radical mobilization, from student protests and occupations to uprisings and insurrections. These events were characterized by the embodied reclaiming of public space, demands for economic, social, and political change, and instrumentalization of technology to communicate, organize, and revolt. As these political struggles spread globally, artists, activists, and scholars have engaged and responded to these actions by generating militant research practices, radical art gestures, and networked communities.

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Graduate Student Initiative invites graduate students from the humanities, arts, and social sciences to come together for our Convergence 2012 to discuss contemporary notions of emancipation, liberation, revolution, occupation, geopolitics, “artivism,” and militant research, and to consider the lived tensions of these concepts in bodies, knowledge, and locations.

In the spirit of the Hemispheric Institute Encuentros, Convergence 2012 intends to bring together about 100 participants to generate a space of intensive connections between scholarship, artistic expression, and politics, promoting embodied practices—performance—as a vehicle for the creation of new meaning and the transmission of cultural values, memory and identity. During the three days of Convergence 2012, we aim to explore new political potentials for emancipation, liberation, and revolution.

Invited Speakers and Artists include:

Andy Bichlbaum (The Yes Men), Colectivo Situaciones (Argentina), Counter-Cartographies Collective (Durham NC), Ricardo Dominguez (UCSD), Esther Gabara (Duke University), Macarena Gómez-Barris (USC), Jack Halberstam (USC), Michael Hardt (Duke University), Brian Holmes (activist), Josh Kun (USC), Pedro Lasch (Duke University), Diane Nelson (Duke University), Walter Mignolo (Duke University), Spirithouse (Durham NC), Diana Taylor (NYU), and Wu Tsang (performer/filmmaker).

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 icon Convergence 2012 flyer (414.05 kB)

Who Can Apply

Hemi GSI is a forum for graduate students, so applicants must be currently pursuing a graduate degree (MA, MFA or PhD) in the humanities, arts, or social sciences.

How To Apply

Interested participants must apply to be part of a work group. To apply, please fill out the online Application Form (see link below), and email your CV, a 250 word bio, and a 500-word abstract of your proposed project to Make sure you indicate the name of your desired work group in the subject of the email, and that your submitted documents are in Word format (.doc or .docx). Please note that the maximum number of participants per work group will be 10.

Deadline: July 1, 2012
Application Form


Leticia Robles-Moreno, New York University
Zach Blas, Duke University
Ana Paulina Lee, University of Southern California

Duke University Co-Organizers: Kency Cornejo, Laura Jaramillo, Melody Jue, Camila Maroja, China Medel, Amanda Suhey, and Jasmina Tumbas

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* Students must bring their work into discussion with the themes of the work groups

1. On-line_off-line Performance

Co-conveners: Ricardo Dominguez (USC), Diana Taylor (NYU), Zach Blas (Duke), Micha Cardenas (USC), and Jasmina Tumbas (Duke)

Description: Since the 1980’s groups, such as Critical Art Ensemble, have theorized and developed different forms of recombinant theater(s) that have sought to collided, trouble, expand, interrupt and invent modes of sustainable pulsing between data_bodies and real_bodies. Some 30 years later the event zone for what recombinant theater(s) can perform, create, connect and dislocate as on-line_off-line gestures have now become a stable social stage for its enactments and its institutionalization. What have we learned about this performative matrix? What have we lost? What is to be done now? What are the recombinant theater(s) to come? We invite you to write critical codes, to perform between the lines, to imagine the horizons on the other side, and risk going beyond the network and the street.

2. Protesting Politics: New Modes of Culture and Activism during the Collapse of Capitalism

Co-conveners: Jack Halberstam (USC), Josh Kun (USC), Ana Paulina Lee (USC), China Medel (Duke), and Iván Smirnov (Universidad de Chile)

Description: In this work group, we will explore alternative ways of thinking, living, being and becoming. Tracking the idea of the alternative and the revolutionary, the subversive and the subaltern through multiple contexts, political struggle, artistic practice, cultural expression, social imaginaries, rebellion, transgression, utopian thinking -- We will think about the relationship between the dominant and its contestation. We will articulate a theory of the alternative and also consider its locations and possibilities in popular culture, the subcultural and the recycled.

3. Decolonial and Dewestern Options

Co-conveners: Macarena Gomez-Barris (USC), Walter Mignolo (Duke), Kaitlin McNally-Murphy (NYU), Seth Michelson (USC), Amanda Suhey (Duke), and Yvette Martinez-Vu (UCLA)

Description: This work group addresses the themes of emancipation, liberation, dewesternization and decoloniality from various transhistorical and global positions. We think about the body in relation to aesthetics, feminism, slavery, indigeneity, the archive, and queerness toward furthering discussion and analysis of dewesternization and decoloniality to tease out the ideas of emancipation and liberation. What are the possibilities of recent scholarship, art, and social movements toward these futures? And more importantly, how can this research support all of our efforts to promote and provoke dewesternization and decoloniality, as a different path of liberation?

4. The Politics of Fiction

Co-conveners: Esther Gabara (Duke), Pedro Lasch (Duke), Lourdes Pérez Cesari (Universidad Veracruzana, México), Kency Cornejo (Duke), Jennifer Reynolds (USC), and Cristel Jusino (NYU)

Description: This work group invites artists, activists, and scholars to engage in the theory and practice of fiction-making as a political process. We hope to complement the tradition of political art grounded in documentary and testimonio. In fact, many of the works in this tradition engage fictional modes, though they have not generally been recognized as doing so. Likewise, as much as realism contributes to the force of the document, it has also been the backbone of everything from novelistic fictions since the 19th century to contemporary conceptual art. The practices and theories in this tradition reveal just how impossible it is to disentangle fiction and politics. The stakes of the knot tied between the two cannot be underestimated in a country that went to war over faked documents pointing to imaginary WMDs in Iraq. But not only the powerful have recourse to the power of fiction. We hope to learn about fictional strategies used across the American continent, social classes, ethnic groups and political struggles, and generate new ones. Fiction here includes but is not limited to the concept of storytelling and narrative. Other fictional modes might be: parodies, hoaxes, myths, games, simulations, situations staged in the flow of the everyday, faked photographs and documents, performances, installations, imagined and imaginary spaces (urban, theatrical, architectural, domestic, etc.), and altered aesthetics of relation (a la Glissant).

5. Urban Geopolitics: Reconfigurations from Art, Activism, and Research

Co-conveners: Colectivo Situaciones (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Counter-Cartographies Collective (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Diane Nelson (Duke), Camila Maroja (Duke), Leticia Robles-Moreno (NYU), and Marcos Steuernagel (NYU)

Description: This work group will explore how dissentious thoughts and bodies intertwine in the reconfiguration of urban dynamics and/as spaces of conflict. Departing from the notion of “crisis,” we want to address the role of collective acts of emancipation/liberation/resistance within and against a pervasive rhetoric of progress: How individual and collective bodies function as surfaces that produce new meanings through the act of occupying spaces that disturb urban logic? What is the effect of the critical presence of bodies and voices in the cartography of the city? How is that artivism and research are articulated as ways of existence in contexts that transit from the urban to the digital? In sum, how do we currently think through and generate productive links between research, artistic practices, activism, and diverse lifestyles?

Convergence 2012 is made possible by the generous support of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University; Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Dean of Humanities, The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Provost of the Arts, Center for International Studies, The Graduate School, The Literature Program, Romance Studies, Center for Caribbean and Latin American Studies, Center for Documentary Studies, Center for Latino Studies in the Global South, HASTAC, Master of Fine Arts in Experimental & Documentary Arts Program, Women’s Studies, History, Theater, Arts of the Moving Image, Center for Global Studies and the Humanities, and Cultural Anthropology at Duke University; the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program at the University of Southern California; and the Department of Performance Studies at New York University.