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In The Archive and the Repertoire preeminent performance studies scholar Diana Taylor provides a new understanding of the vital role of performance in the Americas. From plays to official events to grassroots protests, performance, she argues, must be taken seriously as a means of storing and transmitting knowledge. Taylor reveals how the repertoire of embodied memory—conv In The Archive and the Repertoire preeminent performance studies scholar Diana Taylor provides a new understanding of the vital role of performance in the Americas. From plays to official events to grassroots protests, performance, she argues, must be taken seriously as a means of storing and transmitting knowledge. Taylor reveals how the repertoire of embodied memory—conveyed in gestures, the spoken word, movement, dance, song, and other performances—offers alternative perspectives to those derived from the written archive and is particularly useful to a reconsideration of historical processes of transnational contact. The Archive and the Repertoire invites a remapping of the Americas based on traditions of embodied practice.Examining various genres of performance including demonstrations by the children of the disappeared in Argentina, the Peruvian theatre group Yuyachkani, and televised astrological readings by Univision personality Walter Mercado, Taylor explores how the archive and the repertoire work together to make political claims, transmit traumatic memory, and forge a new sense of cultural identity. Through her consideration of performances such as Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s show Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit . . . , Taylor illuminates how scenarios of discovery and conquest haunt the Americas, trapping even those who attempt to dismantle them. Meditating on events like those of September 11, 2001 and media representations of them, she examines both the crucial role of performance in contemporary culture and her own role as witness to and participant in hemispheric dramas. The Archive and the Repertoire is a compelling demonstration of the many ways that the study of performance enables a deeper understanding of the past and present, of ourselves and others.


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In The Archive and the Repertoire preeminent performance studies scholar Diana Taylor provides a new understanding of the vital role of performance in the Americas. From plays to official events to grassroots protests, performance, she argues, must be taken seriously as a means of storing and transmitting knowledge. Taylor reveals how the repertoire of embodied memory—conv In The Archive and the Repertoire preeminent performance studies scholar Diana Taylor provides a new understanding of the vital role of performance in the Americas. From plays to official events to grassroots protests, performance, she argues, must be taken seriously as a means of storing and transmitting knowledge. Taylor reveals how the repertoire of embodied memory—conveyed in gestures, the spoken word, movement, dance, song, and other performances—offers alternative perspectives to those derived from the written archive and is particularly useful to a reconsideration of historical processes of transnational contact. The Archive and the Repertoire invites a remapping of the Americas based on traditions of embodied practice.Examining various genres of performance including demonstrations by the children of the disappeared in Argentina, the Peruvian theatre group Yuyachkani, and televised astrological readings by Univision personality Walter Mercado, Taylor explores how the archive and the repertoire work together to make political claims, transmit traumatic memory, and forge a new sense of cultural identity. Through her consideration of performances such as Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s show Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit . . . , Taylor illuminates how scenarios of discovery and conquest haunt the Americas, trapping even those who attempt to dismantle them. Meditating on events like those of September 11, 2001 and media representations of them, she examines both the crucial role of performance in contemporary culture and her own role as witness to and participant in hemispheric dramas. The Archive and the Repertoire is a compelling demonstration of the many ways that the study of performance enables a deeper understanding of the past and present, of ourselves and others.

30 review for The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emer O'Toole

    Approaching the history and political present of the Americas through the lens of performance, Taylor offers methodological tools for approaching those unwritten histories, the histories of the never quite vanquished, that persist in our cultural repertoires. Particularly striking and useful for me in terms of approaching history as a scholar of performance is the idea of repetitive "scenarios" that play out over time as kinds of scripts. Taylor takes the "scenario" of encounter, underscoring th Approaching the history and political present of the Americas through the lens of performance, Taylor offers methodological tools for approaching those unwritten histories, the histories of the never quite vanquished, that persist in our cultural repertoires. Particularly striking and useful for me in terms of approaching history as a scholar of performance is the idea of repetitive "scenarios" that play out over time as kinds of scripts. Taylor takes the "scenario" of encounter, underscoring the theatricality of European colonial narratives, and cleverly tracing not only their continued use in contemporary cultural and political discourse, but also the clever ways in which performance artists and activists subvert them. Taylor's clear, accessible, charmingly personal style is a breath of fresh air in academia, and shows that accessibility and theoretical sophistication make happy bedfellows when the quality of thought is as strong as this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    The distinction between the archive and the repertoire as different modes of conveying knowledge and culture is a useful one, though I am not convinced it is as distinct from the written/oral language divide as Taylor would like to believe. She distinguishes between the archive as the set of physical artifacts--including written texts, relics, recordings, etc.--and the repertoire of scenarios and performed behaviors passed down through cultures that make communication and meaning-making practice The distinction between the archive and the repertoire as different modes of conveying knowledge and culture is a useful one, though I am not convinced it is as distinct from the written/oral language divide as Taylor would like to believe. She distinguishes between the archive as the set of physical artifacts--including written texts, relics, recordings, etc.--and the repertoire of scenarios and performed behaviors passed down through cultures that make communication and meaning-making practices intelligible. Picking up from postcolonialism, Taylor emphasizes how the repertoire has been largely ignored as a mode of legitimate cultural, historical, and embodied knowledge in a logocentric Western culture, and how utilizing the repertoire as a means of viscerally shared experience can bind colonized or oppressed peoples in a shared community. But she also argues that one of the chief functions of performance studies is to reintroduce the repertoire as a crucial and legitimate supplemental resource alongside the archive. The main reason I rated this book a three rather than higher is that the other stated goal of this book is to intervene in Latin American studies, particularly as regards performance. I don't work on Latin American literature, and there are problems with paralleling Latin American lit/drama/performance with the works I do study. For instance, because of the sophisticated degree of racial distinction introduced by the Spanish caste system in Latin America, the postcolonial concerns of Latin America will generally be very different than those of Africa or Ireland, where such systems didn't really exist (apartheid South Africa might be the exception, but even then I think the classification system served a different political purpose in a different context than the Spanish caste system).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy P.

    This book makes you rethink the whole concept of what is an archive, what deserves to be archived, what is the historical context of the archive, who gets to choose what is archived, and how is a performance an archive. To be honest, it poses a bunch of more thoughts as well. Diana Taylor brings up so many questions that don't necessarily provide you with an answer, but gets you critically thinking about archives, performances, transculturism, and plethora of other thoughts and theories. This bo This book makes you rethink the whole concept of what is an archive, what deserves to be archived, what is the historical context of the archive, who gets to choose what is archived, and how is a performance an archive. To be honest, it poses a bunch of more thoughts as well. Diana Taylor brings up so many questions that don't necessarily provide you with an answer, but gets you critically thinking about archives, performances, transculturism, and plethora of other thoughts and theories. This book has me thinking so much, this small box is not enough to describe how wonderful this book is and how much it gets you to critical engage with the text and the performances around you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    A wonderful interrogation of the nature of knowledge and the cultural tensions at play whenever "knowing" happens. Taylor presents the central issues of the field of Performance Studies through a dual lens of Theater Studies and the culture(s) of the Americas. She succeeds in making both accessible to an audience lacking background in either, though I suspect that previous knowledge in one or both fields would further enrich the reading experience. A wonderful interrogation of the nature of knowledge and the cultural tensions at play whenever "knowing" happens. Taylor presents the central issues of the field of Performance Studies through a dual lens of Theater Studies and the culture(s) of the Americas. She succeeds in making both accessible to an audience lacking background in either, though I suspect that previous knowledge in one or both fields would further enrich the reading experience.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is a theory-laden book that many will find challenging to read; yet the reward is very thought-provoking, subtle analysis of fascinating cases. I would especially recommend the chapters on the theater troupe Yuyuchkani and on the Madres & H.I.J.O.S. of the disappeared victims of the Dirty War in Argentina. I anticipate revisiting Taylor's work in the future. This is a theory-laden book that many will find challenging to read; yet the reward is very thought-provoking, subtle analysis of fascinating cases. I would especially recommend the chapters on the theater troupe Yuyuchkani and on the Madres & H.I.J.O.S. of the disappeared victims of the Dirty War in Argentina. I anticipate revisiting Taylor's work in the future.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    Such an overly pedantic text, all I wanted to do was punch the author and the editors. Not a pleasant read. Really interesting and current ideas, a necessary discussion of "the other" and how marginalization happens, but when the language is prohibitive, reading the text just becomes a chore rather than a discovery. Such an overly pedantic text, all I wanted to do was punch the author and the editors. Not a pleasant read. Really interesting and current ideas, a necessary discussion of "the other" and how marginalization happens, but when the language is prohibitive, reading the text just becomes a chore rather than a discovery.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Zu

    I read the chapters assigned by my professor. I love her idea of repertoire and theatre as a way to transmit knowledge--embodied knowledge. It raises quite a few interesting questions about archive and repertoire, about writing and performing, and about memorizing and forgetting ...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I read this book in three sittings, for a class. The overall consensus of the class was that the stories and examples of performance as an alternative to the archive were fascinating and relevant. However, the over-use of the word "liminality" was a turn-off. I read this book in three sittings, for a class. The overall consensus of the class was that the stories and examples of performance as an alternative to the archive were fascinating and relevant. However, the over-use of the word "liminality" was a turn-off.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I carry it around with me! So influential on my current thinking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Carmona

    I have an academic crush on Diana Taylor...she makes me want to do performance studies...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian Herrera

    Refreshingly readable; elegantly argued. A text enriched by repeat readings.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Just Me

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cryptic Affects

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ref

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diann

  17. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nataliaromano

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

  20. 5 out of 5

    Becky Hsu

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matt Potter

  22. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Hild

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  24. 4 out of 5

    Henry Street Editing

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katrien

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hashintha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adriane

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joelle Arp-Dunham

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