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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Daisy Thompson, MFA Researcher - Project Barca.

Coming from a working class background in Britain, I have an interest in the embodied experiences of the working, middle and upper class social identity categories, and how this class system of power operates on the body and consequently, how the body performs this system of power. The readings from Project Barca thus far, drawn from Performance Studies and Intersectionality, have been extremely informative in opening up my ‘thinking’ about my own ‘doing’, regarding the many identities, spaces and practices that I embody: white; female; dancer; performance maker; student; teacher and working class, amongst many more.

Witnessing Henry’s studio based research based on the implications of Christopher Columbus’s 1492 journey, and in particular on his incorporation of the dancer’s personal histories in the work, I am  encouraged to excavate the archives of my own body. Furthermore, researching Intersectionality theory ‘‘A framework of analysis…which treats social positions as relational, and makes visible the multiple positioning that constitutes everyday life and the power relations that are central to it” Dhamoon, R (2011), has further encouraged me to consider my position in society, how I am perceived by others and consequently, to examine the intersections of identities that I hold.

Recognizing that I may be perceived as holding a position of privilege being white, I was cautious about my own approach to intersectionality [as to whether I could or should be delving in to intersectionality theory, regarding the analyzing of the intersections of my body and identities of female and working class]. For example, I simply cannot ignore the historic roots and reasons why this framework of analysis was invented in the first place, and that the implementation of such an analysis for my own excavation, could (and maybe already has) be seen as another form of white privilege. However, at present, I have come to the conclusion that it is important for me and others like me - white people, to have a more coherent and differently informed understanding of the experiences of others, who hold multiple identities that are discriminated against. All of this research will be part of my final thesis for my MFA studies.

Throughout this summer, as an interim project, and to expand my interest in alternative modes of education, I will embark on practical and theoretical research, towards the creation of a practical workshop, which will aim to facilitate expanded understandings of Intersectionality through dance and performance. This research will be conducted under the umbrella of Project Barca, and supervised by Dr. Rita Kaur Dharmoon (collaborator on Project Barca). I was inspired and encouraged to pursue this research by Dr. Dharmoon after participating in a task that she led during the first workshop and audition process for project Barca. All participants were gathered in a line facing the same direction, in front of a designated space. She asked a series of identity related questions concerning the social context of Vancouver and to how we felt we were being perceived in this context. We were to answer yes by stepping forward, no by stepping backwards and to remain stationary if if we were unsure.

This exercise was extremely enlightening!

Although I considered myself to be open minded and aware of the discrimination that others were receiving day to day, I realized through this exercise that I hadn’t quite thought about my own position in society – that of being white…and highly privileged! To elaborate on this point, it made me realize just how much I take for granted being in this position in society, and how much I do not take into account the experiences of others with perhaps lesser privileges…it is easy for me to forget that the struggle for equality is still very present amongst many members of society.



In ‘Considerations on Mainstreaming Intersectionality’ (2011), Dr. Dharmoon refers to Gordon Jang’s matrix of meaning making (2010), she states: 

"The idea of a matrix of meaning-making aims to foreground an expanded Foucauldian understanding of power so as to capture the ways in which processes of differentiation and systems of domination interrelate...While it may be not be possible to develop a diagram of a matrix of meaning-making on paper or in text form because it entails movement among multiple interactions and across time, dimensions, and levels, figure 8, provides some sense of what this might look like" (pg 238)

Inspired by both the visual representation of Jang, and by Dr. Dharmoon’s interpretation of this, I felt that dance could contribute towards the making of a 3-dimensional model, hence my proposal to create a process-based practical workshop. The research towards the creation of this educational model will be practice based (movement orientated), but also draw on aspects of performance studies and intersectionality. I believe that by drawing on notions of ‘performance’ such as: stage performance; performance of power and the performance of identity, interesting connections could be made towards a more embodied understanding of ideas/issues within the theory and practice of intersectionality. Vice versa, I also believe that Intersectionality can be a useful tool for looking at/examining dance and performance...more on this after the initial period of research.

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