Week 1: Post-colonialism, identity, race and the immigrant body

The first week will provide an overview over the history of performance art in South - and Southeast Asia. We will focus on performative works critiquing political and economic shifts triggered by internationalism and the influx of capitalism in the second half of the 20th century and the struggle in defining post-colonial identities and diasporic entanglements.

Week 2: Sanctions, control and the body as a site of resistance

The impact of suppression, fear and political censorships shaping artists’ relationship to identity and the body is the theme of Week 2. We will discuss the abrupt shift in the political climate and in turn the institutionalization of trauma and the aestheticization of violence under sanctions in countries like Myanmar and Iran and uncover how performative practices articulate the body as a site of resistance to control and political power dynamics.

Week 3: The divine body, rituals and votive practices

Week 3 is devoted to performative practices drawing from ritual, votive practices, and mythology. We will be reviewing performance works focusing on the othering of the human body amidst the ritualistic pursuits of the divine body. We will be studying these themes borrowing from Hindu Buddhism, Thervada Buddhism in Thailand, Taoism in China, Mystic poetry by Bulleh Shah and Sufi writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Week 4: Costume and the meaning of clothing

The politics of power over the individual’s body and connotations of costumes, garment and clothing are at the center of the final week. We will look at performances involving the covering of a body as a political practice and investigate into the alienation of one’s body and ways of reclaiming one’s body and identity through meaning of costume and clothing.