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By Jon McKenzie, Heike Roms, C. J. W.-L. Wee (eds.)

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Performance traditions travel when communities leave home, either for economic or political reasons. Youth gangs span the Americas, transmitted by the Latino youth who grew up in the United States and deported for immigration reasons to a ‘home’ in Latin America they never knew. These histories and practices cannot be understood from any one place. They can certainly not be understood within the confines of the United States or American Studies, as expansive and encompassing as they might be. What the Hemispheric Institute offers, then, is active engagement and dialogue (however complicated) among those who are seriously committed to translocal, multidisciplinary work on performance and politics in the Americas.

She offers an overview of a variety of different approaches, from well-funded, university-based interdisciplinary research programs to independently curated and produced interventionist performance projects. These approaches have the potential to ‘lead to a different understanding of research, which regards it no longer as the privilege of the specialist fields of science, theory, and art. ’ By thus questioning the dividing lines that currently separate the institution of the university from art and politics, such non-specialized hybrid research, Peters proposes, may ultimately lead to a form of egalitarian politics in our knowledge society.

The theory-art-activism overlaps, like much else we discovered, need to be put into action rather than talked about. Little by little we developed and formalized the concept of working groups. During the following Encuentros (‘Memory, Atrocity, and Resistance,’ Monterrey, Mexico 2001; ‘Globalization, Migration, and the Public Sphere,’ Lima, Peru 2002; ‘Spectacles of Religiosities,’ New York, USA 2003; ‘Performing Heritage,’ The Many Lives of Performance 31 Belo Horizonte, Brazil 2005; ‘Corpolíticas/Body Politics: Formations of Race, Class and Gender in the Americas,’ Buenos Aires, Argentina 2007) working groups of artists, activists, and scholars became the backbone of the event.

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