Performance, memory, decolonization and citizenship in contemporary Caribbean and African diasporic spaces

Performance, memory, decolonization and citizenship in contemporary Caribbean and African diasporic spaces photo/foto: Cristhian Ávila

Honor Ford-Smith (York University), Rawle Gibbons (University of the West Indies), Carol Lawes (WROC), Diane Roberts (Urban Ink), Deborah Thomas (University of Pennsylvannia), Eugene Williams (Jamaica School of Drama)

This teach-in explores performance as a site of memory, decolonization and the entanglement of multiple temporalities in contemporary Caribbean and African diasporic spaces, and questions the implications of this for the citizenship, power and possibility in the present. Drawing on examples from carnival, sacred/secular rituals and political performance from the contemporary Caribbean and the African diaspora, the teach-in explores how performances challenge and re-produce specific conditions of racialized and gendered citizenship and political possibility. The teach-in combines lecture demonstrations, performance, discussions and audio visuals.


Honor Ford-Smith is Assistant Professor in Community and Environmental Arts, at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. She is best known for her work as the founding Artistic Director of the Sistren Theatre Collective in Jamaica. Her publications include 3 Jamaican Plays 1976-1986;  Lionheart Gal: Life stories of Jamaican Women (with the Sistren collective); and My Mother’s Last Dance: An anthology of poems.

Rawle Gibbons is Senior Lecturer at  the Festival Centre for the Creative Arts, at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.  His plays are anthologized in A Calypso Trilogy (1999) Kingston and Port of Spain: Ian Randle and Canboulay Publishers.

Carol Lawes is best known for the creation of compelling female roles which combine satirical humor with religious iconography and linguistic creativity. She is identified with Lettie in the collectively created Fallen Angel and the Devil Concubine, Queenie in Sufferer's Song; and Nen in Ilawah. She is also a director, popular theatre animator and arts administrator. She is currently developing the theatre arm of the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) a women's community based organization which has violence prevention as its main focus.

Diane Roberts is Artistic Director of Urban Ink productions, which is a First Nations theatre company, founded in 2001 by Marie Clements in Vancouver. The company creates, develops and produces aboriginal and diverse cultural works of theatre, writing and film, utilizing an approach which embraces and strives for the combination and integration of artistic disciplines, including different forms of theatre, story-telling, dance, music, video and multi-media.

Deborah Thomas is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvannia. Her publications include Blackness Across Borders: Jamaican Diasporas and Politics of Citizenship; Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness, Ed. Kamari M. Clarke and Deborah A. Thomas, Duke University Press, 2006.

Eugene Williams is Director of the Jamaica School of Drama at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.  He is a director with over thirty years of experience in Caribbean performance. (MFA, Brooklyn College and MA, Performance Studies, NYU, USA)