04 Exceeding Austerity: Performance, Neoliberalism, and the Conservative Turn


A wave of conservative governments has risen throughout the Americas, ending the Pink Tide that marked the early 21st Century. From Trumpism to the Movimento Brasil Livre, from neo-Fujimorismo to Macrismo, a New Right has (re)emerged that closely aligns neoliberal economics with social conservatism, specifically attacking advances in human rights, gender politics, and cultural diversity. In this sense, the calls for “austerity” imposed throughout the continent refer not only to the sacrifices the lower classes are called to endure for the sake of the “economy,” but also to the seriousness of the “good citizens” that are constructed as the authors of this call.

This workgroup explores the ways in which performance—both as practice and as methodological lens—challenges this call to austerity through humor, aesthetic inversions, purposeful excesses, and epistemological expansions. How have theater, dance, performance art been instrumental in exceeding the calls for austerity, in refusing the closure of alternatives? What can close readings of performance—embodied, on WhatsApp, in the news—reveal about the forces at play in this radical turn, about the echo chambers of fake news and denialism? How can performance practice expand our understanding of the implications of the downfall of the New Latin American Left for a global understanding of difference and diversity?

Format and Structure:

This transnational, multilingual, and transdisciplinary workgroup seeks to to bring into conversation a diversity of ways of thinking through/with/about performance. We welcome projects that combine intellectual rigor with aesthetic experimentation, be them academic papers/chapters in progress, lecture-performances, choreographic cartographies, experimental dramaturgies, short performances-as-research, scripts in process… All workgroup members will submit a draft of their contribution (papers/scripts/video documentation/born-digital materials) to the workgroup organizers at least a month before the Encuentro. We will then circulate these among all the participants and organize them into 10-20 minute presentations, followed by feedback and conversation, for the four days we will work together.

Possible topics might include:

  • Performances that challenge the univocality of the New Right
  • he re-emergence of unabashed white patriarchy (machismo/femicides/maga)
  • Attacks on gender diversity (and diversity in general)
  • News, new media, and elections
  • New denials of state-sponsored violence
  • Extractivism in times of austerity
  • Dissident and disruptive tactics and choreographies of protest and discourse
  • Performing citizenship in times of neoliberalism
  • New political articulations of racial difference
  • Site-specific performances of resistance
  • Recent cartographies of power
  • Allyship, solidarity, collectivity and grass-roots resistance
  • Neoliberal “excessive” practices of the everyday life  

Languages spoken/understood by conveners:

English, Portuguese, Spanish


Sérgio Andrade is Artist and Professor of Dance, Performance, and Philosophy at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, where he also coordinates the LabCrítica. He holds a PhD and a MA in Philosophy from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, an MA in Performing Arts and a BA in Dance from Universidade Federal da Bahia. In 2014-2015, he was Visiting Scholar at New York University (PS Department and Hemi). As an artist, he has worked in dance, performance art, urban intervention, and videoart projects in Brazil, Colombia and the USA. He is co-editor of the book Performar Debates (2017).

Leticia Robles-Moreno is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre & Dance at Muhlenberg College. Her research is focused on collective creation processes in contemporary Latin American performance and politics. She explores how theatre, art, and activism, performed specially by women and transnational subjects, can build networked practices as strategies of resistance and survival. Most recently, she has connected community engaged research and artivism in the city of Allentown, PA. She has published scholarly articles in Latin American Theatre Review,Contemporary Theatre Review, Conjunto, and Hispanic Issues Online. Leticia holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University.

Marcos Steuernagel is Assistant Professor of Theatre at the University of Colorado Boulder, working at the intersection of performance and politics, Brazilian and Latin American theatre and performance, and the digital humanities. He is co-editor with Diana Taylor of the trilingual digital book What is Performance Studies? (2015). His upcoming monograph traces the relationship between politics and aesthetics in contemporary Brazilian theatre and dance. Marcos holds a Ph.D. in performance studies from New York University and a Specialization in Cinema and Video and a B.A. in Theatre Directing from Faculdade de Artes do Paraná, Brazil.

Patricia Ybarra is Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Performing Conquest: Five Centuries of Theatre, History and Identity in Tlaxcala, Mexico (Michigan, 2009) and Latinx Theatre in the Times of Neoliberalism (Northwestern, 2017). She is co-editor with Lara Nielsen of Neoliberalism and Global Theatres: Performance Permutations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012; paperback 2014). She is also the immediate past-president of ATHE and a founding member of ATHE’s Latina/o Focus Group (now Latinx, Indigenous and Americas Focus Group). 


  • Amy Carroll
  • Andrés Martínez Ruiz
  • Aniko Szucs
  • Brian Batchelor
  • Carla Beatriz Melo
  • Claudia Calirman
  • Janaina Leite
  • Jennifer Tyburczy
  • Jimena Ortuzar
  • Laura Díaz Galán
  • Maya Wilson-Sanchez
  • Olga Gutiérrez
  • Ricardo Duarte Filho
  • Maria Paula Rodriguez