Reviewed by: AAA Executive Program Committee
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Resistance
Secondary Theme: Resilience
This series of multimodal projects addresses resistance as a site of recalibration, imagination, and potential collaboration. Taking inspiration from Lila Abu-Lughod (1990), we push against romanticized notions of resistance as a challenge to the status quo and rather evoke the concept as a means to diagnose diverse configurations of power and how they shape subjects, performances, and aesthetics. Our works focus on resistance in its engagements with forms of violence that traverse multiple durations and geographic sites: political violence that may appear momentary but is built on legacies of coloniality and emergent iterations of neo-imperialism; structural violence in its prolonged persistence as it constrains life trajectories even across generations; and the epistemic violence of scholarly production that falls short of our interlocutors’ wisdom and creativity.
Resistance itself senses power. Our works pursue the revelations of the senses through filmed, danced, sonic, and tactile interventions. Dattatreyan and Shipley offer audio-visual artifacts produced during a devised scriptwriting project with Nigerian, Mozambiquan, and Kenyan film students in Pune, India. The two-channel video installation shows completed scenes alongside the process used to devise them. Resistance is framed as collective narration where one person’s story becomes a shared articulation of racialized violence, hopeful desire, and creative triumph.
Anderson’s video installation narrates a surprising moment of violence that occurred while documenting a ceremony in Northern Kerala. Through disruption of sound and image, the installation questions the resistances between ethnography and intervention, and particularly the role of the camera in those tensions.
Kivenko offers micro-performances inspired by the creative strategies by which Malian dancers and musicians use an aesthetic of “swing” to navigate lives on and off stage. A “poetics of swing” emerges as an approach by which to consider the mechanics of resilience that Malian artists perform amidst (post)colonial decay, as well as a means to perform scholarship that pushes back against the epistemic violence that scholarly production enacts on its informants.
Jolaosho examines South African activists’ aesthetic interventions that unfold in song and attire. Querying how protests are made, the sonic and sartorial performance takes up collective protest formation as the spatial and embodied production of dissent.
Taken together, these projects ask: What sorts of possibilities emerge when anthropology embraces the performative acts of our interlocutors as modes of critique, as registers of refusal, as self-fashioning exercises? What speculative possibilities emerge to reimagine the past, present, and future? What sorts of complicated desires—whether for or opposed to power—make themselves visible, audible or otherwise sensible? How might non-textual and collaborative approaches that center our participants’ sensing, feeling, and embodying of resistance offer alternative entry points for us to resist oppression ourselves? The multimodal pieces that we undertake with our interlocutors in the field offer avenues to articulate hidden narratives, generate diagnostics of power, and create (or disrupt) possibilities of repair, resilience, and recovery. If, as bell hooks has argued, “people resist by defining their reality,” how might these pieces re-define what is and what could be, and thus what could and should be resisted?