Convergence 2013 | Experimental Collectivities

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The Hemi GSI Convergence 2013, hosted by USC and UCLA, will take place from October 10-13, 2013. We invite undergraduate and graduate students from the humanities, arts, and social sciences, artists, activists, and community leaders to come together for our Convergence 2013 to develop and implement a theory and practice of “Experimental Collectivities” which we will explore under the subthemes of care, labor, bodies and borderlands in different locations throughout Southern California.

Follow our Hemi GSI Convergence 2013 live streaming on October 10-13 HERE!



Call for Participation:

The inaugural 2012 Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics Graduate Student Initiative (Hemi GSI) Convergence, hosted by Duke University, examined emancipation, liberation, revolution, occupation, geopolitics, “artivism,” and militant research in order to engage the lived tensions of these contemporary concepts in bodies, knowledge, and locations.

To further dialogues initiated at Duke University, the second Hemi GSI Convergence invites graduate students from the humanities, arts, and social sciences to come together and develop exploratory spaces of lateral collaboration and alternative pedagogies. “Experimental Collectivities” will bring scholars, artists, and activists from throughout the Americas into discussions of care, labor, bodies, islands, and borderlands through panels, performances, film, visits to community spaces and research working groups.

Participants include:

Raquel Barreto (UCLA), Zach Blas (Duke), Micha Cárdenas (USC), Jorgelina Cerritos (Playwright, El Salvador), Benvenuto Chavajay (Guatemala Performance Artist), Brittany Chavez (UNC, Chapel Hill), Marissa Chibas (Performer, Los Angeles), Kency Cornejo (Duke), Hope Cristobal (Chamorro activist), Doris Difarnecio (Chiapas, México), Alfred Flores (UCLA), Macarena Gómez-Barris (USC), Jack Halberstam (USC), Jen Hofer (CalArts, Antena), Terrilee Keko'olani (Kanaka Maoli activist), Josh Kun (USC), Fred Moten (UCR), Juan de Lara (USC), Marissa López (UCLA), Raúl Martín Ríos (Director, Teatro de la Luna, Cuba), Maria-Elena Martínez (USC), Vivian Martínez-Tabares (Director of Casa de las Américas, Havana, Cuba), Kevin McDonald (UCLA), China Medel (Duke), Sean Metzger (UCLA), Seth Michelson (USC), Alex Munoz (Filmmaker, Los Angeles), Lorie Novak (NYU), Tavia Nyong’o (NYU), José Luiz Passos (UCLA), Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye (USC), Alex Rivera (Film director, Los Angeles), Leticia Robles-Moreno (NYU), Chantal Rodriguez (LATC), Maria-Itzel Siegrist (UCLA), Marcos Steuernagel (NYU), Diana Taylor (NYU), Carmen Valencia (Vieques activist), and Low End Theory (experimental hip-hop and electronic music, Los Angeles).

The 2013 Hemi GSI Convergence is co-hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California from October 10-13th 2013. To participate, you are invited to submit an abstract to present your research in one of our ELEVEN WORK GROUPS (descriptions below).

Requirements: Research Abstract (500 words max), CV (2 pages)
Directions:  Send to
Please, indicate the Working Group you are applying for in the subject- line of the email.

Convergence 2013 Directors
Rebekah Garrison (University of Southern California)
Isabel Gómez (University of California, Los Angeles)
Yvette Martínez-Vu (University of California, Los Angeles)
Ana Paulina Lee (University of Southern California)
Olivia Sánchez (Los Angeles Community College)

The 2013 Hemi GSI Convergence is made possible by generous support of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (NYU), The Canadian Consortium on Performance and Politics in the Americas, funded in large part through Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Visions and Voices (USC), USC Graduate School, American Studies and Ethnicity (USC), Transpacific Studies Institute (USC), Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program (USC), Department of Spanish & Portuguese (USC), Department of Spanish & Portuguese (UCLA), Department of English (UCLA), the Latin American Institute Working-Group for Travel, Translation & Circulation (UCLA, the Department of Comparative Literature (USC), Indigeneity and Decolonial Research Cluster (USC); and the Department of Performance Studies (NYU).

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1. Archives of Transformation at Biddy Mason Park

Co-conveners: Ellen-Rae Cachola (UCLA), Dalena Hunter (UCLA), Maria Elena Martínez (USC)

This working group seeks to use critical analysis and ethnographic methods from the humanities and social sciences to examine the relationships between document creation, custody, and rights in archival practice. We are interested in contextualizing archival practice within the milieu of power it is situated in by examining the epistemological politics in the study of archives and the collection, description and preservation of records. We are organizing a community tour focusing on Biddy Mason Park, which stands on land important to Native Americans, Chican@s, African Americans and Asian Pacific Americans.  We will hold a ceremony and ask participants to contribute an archival record and a story: How do the historical narratives at the Biddy Mason Park relate to them?  What disciplines are participants from, and what archives do they engage with, create and/or transform? We aim to build relationships among students through dialogue about archival concepts. The tour will be documented, and we hope to use the information gathered and relationships built to organize future panel presentations and publications.

2. Bodies In-Transit: Encuentros y Desencuentros in Cultural Crossroads

Co-conveners: Diana Taylor (NYU), Karen Shimakawa (NYU), Leticia Robles-Moreno (NYU), Olga Rodríguez-Ulloa (Columbia), Bess Rowen (CUNY), and Kerry Whigham (NYU)

This work group will explore how scholarly discourses, artivist actions, and art processes and products work together in the joint project of "articulating" the multiple bodies in motion in the global/globalized sphere. In preparation for Convergence 2014, we will discuss the spatial significance of "the city"--how urban spaces become compounded by multiple layers of history and temporality, and how they serve as symbolic spaces of desire for bodies circulating among different points of the Americas and beyond. Our interests are in dialogue with concepts and practices that could include tanatourism; the relationship between violence and cultural artifacts; the work of performers in developing a transnational theater; and the articulations of post-national collectivities. The goal of this work group is to start long-term collaboration projects that lead to a scholarly publication.  Participation in this work group is limited, and all those who apply should be committed to working before our meeting in Los Angeles, as well as after this year's Convergence onward to Convergence 2014.

3. Decolonial Feminisms

Co-conveners: Cecilia Caballero (USC), Ana Chavez (USC), Macarena Gómez-Barris (USC)

The Decolonial Feminisms work group will offer a space for interdisciplinary scholars, artists, and activists to collectively re-imagine decoloniality as both a process and praxis in a hemispheric and global context.  Drawing from Maria Lugones’ theorizations of gender as a colonial construct and “World Traveling,” we will explore how theories of race and ethnicity, sexuality, queer studies, women of color feminisms, transnationalism and plurinationalism, indigeneity, and hemispheric studies inform new understandings of emerging decolonial feminisms. Our discussion will also center on decolonial aesthetics (such as digital media, visual and performance art, music, oral histories and literature) as well as current social movements from across the hemisphere. We ask, what theories are emerging from decolonial feminisms? What are its practices across the hemispheres? What are the means by which artists, activists, and scholars are accessing them?

4. Healing Arts Collective

Co-conveners: Sarah Murdock (UCLA), Ivy McClelland (UC Berkeley)

In an exploration of the intersection of art and public health, the Healing Arts Collective will examine the efficacy of creative practices in community wellness. Artists, activists, and scholars with a specific focus on a social justice approach to arts used in community building will convene to review successes and make recommendations for future projects. Through a cross-disciplinary discussion Healing Arts Collective will develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and socioeconomic position inform the development of arts-based public health research and intervention. Specific attention will be paid to best practices as demonstrated through recent research so that the Collective may make recommendations for policy and future research. From addressing specific issues of trauma to establishing avenues for overall community identity and wellness, Healing Arts Collective will discuss the many avenues into and applications for art as a strategic tool. Partnership will include Public Health from UC Berkeley, World Arts and Cultures/Dance from UCLA, and Inner City Arts in Los Angeles, CA.

5. Indigeneity, Memory and Praxis

Co-conveners: Maylei Blackwell (UCLA), David Shorter (UCLA), Daina Sanchez (UCI), Henry Castillo (NYU)

This group seeks to examine alternative ways of building collectives that denaturalize and decenter the nation state as an organizing principle, with a particular emphasis on indigenous forms of collectivity.  We seek to understand how memory, place and/or personhood are constructed and enacted by native communities in ways that create possibilities for defining a decolonial praxis that is divested from hierarchies that reproduce neocolonial or settler-colonial manifestations across the hemisphere.  In this sense we seek to consider how indigenous epistemologies have often been foundational to movements such as the Maya movement and EZLN and how these modes of being-in and knowing the world create possibilities and limitations for imagining "new" forms of living. We ask, what are the possibilities and challenges of promoting knowledge production and transmission based on indigenous identities and worldviews? If the decolonial is determined by and thus reciprocal to the colonial, in what ways can we promote decolonial collectives without reiterating existing forms of colonialism? How can thinking about memory as a present performative act of (re)constructing the past that relies on the interplay of knowledge and experience help us to acknowledge indigenous epistemologies without disavowing present indigenous cultures and bodies?  How do we understand indigenous rights claims based on fixed notions of place and land in the face of migration and the political-economic displacement of indigenous people from ancestral territories and the creation of indigenous Diasporas?  How does decoloniality relate to land, place and Diaspora?

6. Mediated Public Spaces, Embodiment and Virtual Communities

Co-conveners: Kristy Kang (USC), Ioana Literat (USC), Tavia Nyong’o (NYU), Jasmina Tumbas (SUNY Buffalo)

This working group will bring together people engaged in thoughtful experimentation about the connections between place, embodied and virtual communities. Its purpose is to generate interdisciplinary discourse and creative practices that challenge the assumption that virtual and physical spaces are segregated. Participants will share various approaches that mediate public space as a site for activating community engagement and narrative practices. In line with the increasing significance of creative production in participatory cultures, a core goal of our working group is to both theorize and engender practices of collective participation that are culturally meaningful, prosocial, and empowering. To activate a public space, it is imperative to activate the people that populate that space. As such, in addition to interdisciplinary discussions, working group members will engage in the hands-on co-design of an event, performance or participatory art project that would test the affordances as well as the limits of creative participation in a collective setting.
We warmly invite applications from scholars and practitioners interested in these topics and passionate about community engagement. Beyond an explanation of your background and your interest in this working group, we also ask that you indicate a key question that drives your work and fuels your curiosity about the forum’s principal topics.

7. Playing Dress-Up: Fashion, Gender, and the Politics of Embodiment

Co-conveners: Tamara Leacock (NYU), Kelly McKay (University of Minnesota), Sean Metzger (UCLA), Jack Halberstam (USC)

How do our garments and adornments shape our ways of seeing and being in the world?  This working group takes “fashion” as a starting point from which to initiate a critical and artistic dialogue around questions of politics, identity, queerness, and embodiment.  We seek participants to join us in beginning a collective exploration of how fashion functions as a technology of identity.  We are interested in the political potential of adornment, affective attachments to garments, and the relationship between adornment and embodiment.  As we approach these topics, we are deeply committed to engaging play as a mode of investigation.  We welcome imaginative contributions from scholars, artists, and activists working in fashion studies.  We envision the work group as both a discussion forum and an experimental, artistic research laboratory, a place for sharing our projects-in-process but also for making new work together.  We hope that our collective conversations will speak to the emerging field of fashion studies with a voice distinctly situated in a hemispheric perspective, recognizing the United States and Latin America as playing key roles in shaping the realities of the global fashion economy.  Broadly speaking, we ask: how do we understand the complex relationships between people and clothing?  What kinds of political, social, emotional, and other attachments shape our relationships to our garments?  As we combine our practical work as artists with our scholarly work, we eagerly seek collaborators and interlocutors in this experimental process.  Come play dress-up with us!

8. Public and Private Spaces in Urban Interventions

Co-conveners: Tania Alice (UF Rio)

The goal of this working group is to consider the relation between the private and the public in practices of urban interventions. We will take two preliminary approaches: the relation between public and private spaces in urban interventions, including the question of public and private finance in alternative modes of production; and the tension between the use of autobiographical material in performance practice, how sharing the self, in public or private spheres, can extend its reach to the universal. This group could configure itself as an urban intervention, and discussions could take place in public spaces occupied with private furniture (armchairs, tables), configuring an open-air office, where questions of public and private space could be discussed and practiced.

9. Translation, Circulation & Travel in Latin America

Co-conveners: José Luiz Passos (UCLA), Kristal Bivona (UCLA), Kevin G. McDonald (UCLA)

Travel and translation play a central role in the history, self-awareness, and dissemination of Latin American culture. From the first publication authored by an individual born in the Western Hemisphere, a 1595 translation by Inca Garcilaso, to contemporary language politics affecting the Indigenous languages of the Americas, questions of translation and the circulation of cultural forms, capital, and bodies have always proved central to Latin American culture. This working group invites research that examines the individuals, agencies, and practices that produce these circulating narratives. How can translation participate in decolonial thought?

10. Violence, Decoloniality & Schooling

Co-conveners: Chrissy Anderson-Zavala (UCSC), Cindy Cruz (UCSC), Eduardo Mosqueda (UCSC)

This working group is being co-convened by the Violence, Decoloniality, and Schooling Research Cluster at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a collective of graduate students and faculty interested in interrogating definitions of violence, coloniality, and resistance in schooling. This convening will focus on exploring different conceptualizations of violence and resistance in schooling. We are interested in developing a theoretical framework that engages transnational women of color feminisms, critical literacy, embodiment, and decoloniality as core themes, and a theoretical stance that employs diverse ways of knowing through collaboration with young people, artists, academics, and activists. In our work we embrace lived, everyday experiences as a space that manifests iterative and embodied ways of knowing. We are hoping to collaborate with individuals that are working to deconstruct, disrupt, and dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and deficit-centered frames. We are open and excited about the potential to collaborate with individuals and groups grappling with the colonial legacies and iterations of violence in shared, structural, and institutional spaces. The format of this working group will consist of multiple modes of engagement from focused readings and discussion to the development of a collective text.

11. Visualizing Cultural Circuits

Co-conveners: Lacey Schauwecker (USC), Elena Andrade (University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada), Lorie Novak (NYU), Marissa López (UCLA)

To see is to know, yet neither of these actions is stable or complete.  What we see seems "real" and "natural," but it is always a partial and symbolic performance.  Vision, in other words, is deceptive, and yet it is imbricated with space in technologies of domination that use borders to assign exchange values to bodies and other commodities.  Making visible the instability of space and sight allows us to see seemingly permanent structures as performative processes.  This working group takes a visual studies approach to understanding circuits of cultural exchange to look for mobility across various types of boundaries:  geographical, political, aesthetic, etc.  How do we think about local and global flows of visual culture?  What are its vehicles?  At what speeds and distances do they gain their greatest significance, visibly and/or otherwise?  How do subaltern interventions use visual and spatial practices to (re)invent, adapt, resist, and seek justice in a world dominated by globalized capital?  What kind of experiential learning project do we want to create for ourselves at the Hemi GSI conference in October?

12. The Politics of Fiction

Co-conveners: Esther Gabara (Duke), Pedro Lasch (Duke), Cristel M. Jusino Díaz (NYU), Adriana Pérez Limón (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Andrés Jurado (Universidad Javeriana de Colombia), Abimbola Adelakun (University of Texas-Austin) and Isabel Gómez (UCLA)

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). This working group met for the first time at last year's Hemi GSI Convergence and we are looking forward to continuing this conversation with both past participants and newcomers.