- Performing Trauma in Central Africa
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Performing Trauma in Central Africa
Shadows of Empire
Published by: Indiana University Press
What are the stakes of cultural production in a time of war? How is artistic expression prone to manipulation by the state and international humanitarian organizations? In the charged political terrain of post-genocide Rwanda, post-civil war Uganda, and recent violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laura Edmondson explores performance through the lens of empire. Instead of celebrating theatre productions as expression of cultural agency and resilience, Edmondson traces their humanitarian imperatives to a place where global narratives of violence take precedence over local traditions and audiences. Working at the intersection of performance and trauma, Edmondson reveals how artists and cultural workers manipulate narratives in the shadow of empire and how empire, in turn, infiltrates creative capacities.
List of Acronyms
1. Competitive Memory in the Great Lakes: Touring Genocide
2. Marketing Trauma and the Theatre of War in Northern Uganda
3. Trauma, Inc. in Postgenocide Rwanda
4. Repetition, Rupture, and Ruined: Narratives from the Congo
5. Gifted by Trauma: The Branding of Post-Conflict Northern Uganda
6. Confessions of a Failed Theatre Activist
Afterword: Faustin Linyekula and the Labors of Hope
Laura Edmondson is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater at Dartmouth College, where she is also affiliated with African and African American Studies. She is author of Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage (IUP).
"While the arguments put forward in Performing Trauma in Central Africa are impressive, the methodological and ethical commitments that buttress the text are even more so. Edmondson's research for the book spans well over a~Modern Drama
decade and encompasses a rich variety of ethnographic and archival investigations on three continents."
Edmondson's book is an outstanding addition to the literature on theatre and performance in situations of conflict and post-conflict. It will be an indispensable work for students, academics and activists concerned with the role of the arts in war-affected communities and within the humanitarian sector more broadly." ~New Theatre Quarterly
[T]his important volume [is] particularly valuable as an honest and accurate critique of art for social change. . . . Essential." ~Choice
Passionate and brilliantly argued, Performing Trauma in Central Africa illuminates the complicities, paradoxes, and problematics at the intersection of humanitarian activism and the performance of trauma. While performance studies has at times succumbed to a naïve faith in the transformative power of performance in zones of conflict, Edmondson illuminates how the affective labor of such endeavors can be so potently marshaled for such problematic ends." ~Catherine M. Cole, author of Performing South Africa's Truth Commission
"Laura Edmondson's theorization of the "empire of trauma" provides alternative insights into the interweaving of political paradigms from international development to conflict studies to performance studies. She also reflects on her own susceptibility to be engulfed into the empire's charms."~Ananda Breed, author of Performing the Nation: Genocide, Justice, Reconciliation
"An intimately engaged, critical investigation into the complicated use of trauma by local, national, and international groups, toward both neoliberal and resistant aims, in the post-genocidal Great Lakes region of Africa. Laura Edmondson has collected a compelling set of case studies that speak not only to performance studies, but also to those working in theater activism, politics, and NGOs."~Patrick Anderson, editor (with Jisha Menon) of Violence Performed: Local Roots and Global Routes of Conflict
"Edmondson's publication provokes a crucial debate on the humanitarian efforts of performance, particularly in geographic regions of trauma."~TDR: The Drama Review
"Edmondson deploys her knowledge of the region and her capacity for critical participation to illuminate both the power and the limits of memory"~Theatre Journal
"The author's transparency calls attention to the burden of empire she both carries and casts off whenever possible . . . Edmondson's writing is both trauma-suspect and trauma-informed."~Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism