SMArt Talks: Performing Identities

15 Mar 2023

Alexandra Chiriac researches twentieth-century performance and design. She comes to Brno with the lecture entitled : No Place Like Home: Avant-Garde Yiddish Theatre between the National and the Transnational.

Abstract: During the 1920s and early 1930s, Bucharest was a thriving space of experimentation for itinerant Yiddish performers, who garnered both commercial and critical success. Seeking stability, the internationally renowned Vilna Troupe made Romania its permanent home and the avant-garde theatre director Iacob Sternberg strove to create a permanent organisation for Jewish theatre in the country. This talk examines how Yiddish performance flourished in Romania despite an increasingly hostile political climate and how its traces were later obscured due to peripatetic trajectories either chosen or enforced. It also discusses the challenges of researching and writing about transnational performance in an East European context shaped by national archives and narratives.

Zoltán Ginelli is a geographer and global historian at the University of Public Service in Budapest, Hungary. He follows a world-systemic and decolonial approach to study the global history of Hungarian coloniality and the relations between Eastern Europe and the Global South. His lecture is called: ‘Hungarian Indians’? Race and Colonialism in Hungarian ‘Indian Play’

Abstract: Critical literature on race and colonialism remains Westcentric and often ignores Eastern European positions. Hungary’s place within the global history of racial colonialism has been selectively interpreted, under-researched, or silenced. This talk shows how Hungarian ‘semiperipheral whiteness’, an in-between position of ‘not-quite-whites’ evading ‘white guilt’ complicates the global histories of ‘Indian play’: representing, comparing to, and identifying or performing as Native Americans by whites. The lecture then asks how this history informs the lack of critical engagement with the heritage of ‘Indian play’ in contemporary Hungarian culture amidst raging Western debates on cultural appropriation, ‘redfacing’, ‘white guilt’, and a decolonial politics increasingly captured by identity politics in neoliberal capitalism.

When: Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Where: Hans Belting Library, Department of Art History, Veveří 28, Brno

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