This essay discusses decolonization, performance, and education in the 1970s in Jamaica and argues that embodied performances of humans existing at the margins of power are both compelling as and productive of new forms of knowledge because they teach us to challenge enduring colonial representations and create community in profound ways. Drawing on Sylvia Wynter’s work on colonial epistemologies and representation in relation to questions of race and decolonization and on Rex Nettleford’s discussion of embodiment and marronage, the author lays out a method of decolonial knowledge production and embodied performance and then reads the devising practice of Sistren Theatre Collective between 1977 and 1987 through these ideas.
The Body and Performance in 1970s Jamaica: Toward a Decolonial Cultural Method
Honor Ford-Smith has worked at the intersection of performance and politics for decades. She is an associate professor of cultural and artistic practices for environmental and social justice, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto. Her recent work comprises a cycle of performances, including Letters from the Dead and Song for the Beloved. These honor those who fight against racialized human disposability and remember those who have died at the hands of state violence and the violence of armed strongmen.
Honor Ford-Smith; The Body and Performance in 1970s Jamaica: Toward a Decolonial Cultural Method. Small Axe 1 March 2019; 23 (1 (58)): 150–168. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7374514
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