Tradition and Performance: Displacements of the Present in the Americas and the Atlantic

Tradition and Performance: Displacements of the Present in the Americas and the Atlantic

Displaced Bodies, Imprinted Worlds
Anibal Arregui (University of Vienna)

Both the history and the present of Amazonian quilombolas (Brazilian Maroon descendants) is marked by vital displacements. Their history of slavery, trans-oceanic deportation and escape has left deep traces in modern imaginings of what means to be a free and resilient human being. Their present is likewise marked by daily, far-reaching displacements, that quilombolas perform to enable collective work and attune to the economic and ecologic demands of the rainforest. This video asks whether the history-making capacity of quilombolas, as seen through their endlessly refurbishing bodies, can inspire and imprint the future of others.

Resistencia Rabelada
Luiza Beloti Abi Saab (University of Coimbra)

Widow’s Island of the Tuxa People: Impacts of a Dam in Northeastern Brazil
Leandro Durazzo (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte)

Tuxá people from São Francisco River were removed from their tradicional territories by the decade of 1980, due to the construction of Itaparica Dam. Nowadays, they still wait for justice and talk about the submerged Widow’s Island, where they and their ancestors used to work, cultivate and live their traditional rituals by means of which their world was connected to the spiritual dimension of Encantados. As a contemporary political action, though, Tuxá people did autodemarcate Dzorobabé indigenous land, another traditional land still unrecognized by the state.

Channeling Place: Re-enactment and Corporeal Memory
Sydney Silverstein (Emory University)

I draw on experiences making a collaborative re-enactment film with recovering addicts to discuss the power of corporeal memory in circumstances of displacement. Drawing on still images and video rushes produced during our collective filmmaking endeavor, I make a case for the unique ways of knowing about place and displacement that can be produced through collaborative, multimedia research practices.

“Aqui No Hay Muertos”: Displacing “Tradition” in Puerto Rican Bomba Improvisation
Benjamin Bean (UC Davis)

Santurce, Puerto Rico – Labor Day, 2017: Two days before Hurricane Irma, a bomba group invites their audience to chant, “Viento,” singing the storm away. While many are gathering supplies, this crowd is musically preparing for weeks without power and water. In a sense, one storm has already devastated the island: unemployment, debt, and displacement to the mainland all loom within an atmosphere of colonialism. Against this backdrop, a singer provokes audience participation by improvising a lyric that seems to dispel bomba’s traditional sensibilities: “Aquí no hay muertos – There are no dead here. You didn’t come to mourn, but to sing.”

Esteban: La Historia de Apu Qechele
Maria Isabel Torres, Alexa Velez, and Vanessa Romo (Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru)

What happens when the heirs of an Ayacuchan scissors dance, a tradition with more than 400 years of history, migrate to Lima, the capital of Peru, fleeing political violence? How do they transform their customs in a new urban context that is aggressive to migrants? Esteban Cupe Huamaní is a six year old boy known in the world of dance as “Apu Qechele”. At his young age, Esteban is an experienced dancer, heir to the tradition of his grandfather, the great ayacuchan danzaq “Bernacha” from Andamarca. Now, Esteban divides his time between stories of apus, football games, school tasks and weekly presentations. His drawings reflect the way in which a child understands his particular relationship with the apus or spirits of the mountain and water.