Archaeology and Contemporary Performance in the Desert Southwest
project will constitute a history of the people of the Southwest through their
public expressions in the bodily arts. The subject of this research is
performance in the Southwest in the prehistoric, ethnohistoric, and contemporary
periods. A cultural chronology of self-representation will emerge. This
conception will be paired with each eras’ host political context. There exist
two assemblages of performances from the Native American Southwest that I
propose to link. On assemblage is constituted by prehistoric iconography, ritual
collections, and ceremonial architecture. The second is contemporary ritual
drama and cinema.
search prehistoric iconography and architecture in order to approximate
embodiment and corporeal movement. Information on prehistoric performance can be
gathered from analysis of figurines, pictographs, or ceramics depicting the
human form in ritual accouterment, communal gatherings, procession, or dance. A
review of archaeological site syntheses, artifact analysis, and architectural
surveys is rewarding. This study requires a detailed scanning of litanies of archaeological
materials excavated from prehistoric ceremonial sites in the traditional
Southwest. I will be looking for remnant materials that were used in public
performance. This could mean musical instruments, sculpture, and ritual
assemblages. I will also analyze architectural surveys of performative spaces
such as great kivas and pueblo public places. From this study emerges an
approximation of the performative space and ambience and the built environs and
music of the prehistoric performance.
study requires recognizing traditional iconographical concepts in contemporary
indigenous ritual, drama, and performance.
indigenous contexts, performance may be a conflation of dance, theater, oration,
ritual, and individual style. By performance, I am referring to all
movement-centered public and symbolic actions. I am interested in the
anthropology of the performing arts, the role of performance in Puebloan
culture, the relationship between audience and performer, and historical
narratives and forms in contemporary performance.
first year of research will entail a comprehensive review of archaeological and
ethnographic literature and theories of cinema, performance, historiography, and
indigenous media. In the second year, resident research will begin by studying
performance in the Southwest.
ethnographic study of public performance will be complemented by cinema. This
can include documentaries, recorded traditional activities and oral narratives,
and hypertexts. The cinema survey will recognize traditional performative
themes, references to the past or the body, and the punctum of material culture
and architecture. Observations of corporeality drafted from the cinematic survey
will be contrasted with archaeological observations.
and Contemporary Performance in the Southwest explores
the nascent field of indigenous historiographical media. This research
will focus on prehistoric and contemporary public performances that were
institutional, historical, and narrative. Movements that gesture to landscapes
and past events will be noted. Examples may range from digital indigenous media
to traditional oral performance. This study will contextualize the circuit
between the performer and audience as well as the topography of the
body-as-landscape. Performance is a social, spatial, and experiential phenomena;
an expression of resistance, solidarity, ecstasy, and individuality. This is a
study of how traditional forms and narratives are interpreted, recycled, and
distributed by contemporary medias. As a cultural producer, I will reflexively
film representative samples of all phases of research, interviews, performance
participations, and archaeological site visitations.
am interested in the history of Southwestern performance for these reasons: they
have living and vibrant artists and historians; active tribally administered
historic preservation programs; an indigenous archaeology community; and
descendents whose historical traditions were non-textual and performance based.
Their tribal historic preservation advocacy programs are comparatively mature,
the ethnographic and archaeological materials particularly abundant, and their
performance traditions ornate. Most importantly, for centuries they have been
creatively incorporating new technologies and are currently exploring digital
medias, film production, and synchretic performance. A history of performance
traditions from the Southwest will exhibit how historical materials travel
through the body and time to others in community.
questions exist. In what manner is the “archaeological” reproduced by
indigenous historiographers and performers? In what ways are traditional oral
histories, dance, song, public ritual, or history informing multimedia? I
seek knowledge on how contemporary indigenous artists have written and performed
the body and historical content. What traditional content can be assimilated by
multimedia? What is the nature of the role of history in a public consciousness?
I wonder in what manner are historical concerns corporeally known and publically
expressed. What historical content constitutes the space between the audience
and the performers?
am committed to a reconciliation of the anthropological sciences’ tendencies
to maximize or minimize certain aspects of corporeality and the performative. I
will analyze the body as an agent and
structure, as rational and imaginative, predetermined and symbolic, politically
manipulated and sensually experienced.