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The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (a John Hope Franklin Center Book) [Kindle Edition]

Diana Taylor
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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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Editorial Reviews


“Diana Taylor is perhaps the most lucid and original Latin American performance theorist. In her new book, she tackles a very complex topic: the relationship between writing, performance, and historical memory on our continent. Her interdisciplinary approach provides us with new bridges and pathways between cultures, metiers, and disciplines. My colleagues and I have long been waiting for such a book.”—Guillermo Gómez-Peña, performance artist and writer

“Diana Taylor is that rare scholar—a master of theory who speaks from experience and writes with passion. She tells us that as a child she ‘learned that the Americas were one.’ In this extraordinary book Taylor explores—from the pre-Columbian to the postmodern—America’s oneness of contradictions, revelations, wounds, celebrations, rituals, and arts.”—Richard Schechner, University Professor of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and author of Performance Studies: An Introduction

“Diana Taylor’s ideas, carefully etched out here to great effect, provide a new vocabulary to understand the work that performance does in culture and broadens our sense of how performance achieves its effect. Full of insight and information, The Archive and the Repertoire should finally unsettle the hegemony of narrative in Latin American literary and cultural studies.”—David Román, author of Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS

“The Archive and the Repertoire is an original and brilliant contribution. It will take the study of Latin American performance to a new level with its attention not only to politics and to history and its consequences, but also to memory, the media, and aesthetic/political practices that take into account the hemispheric and the global.”—Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano, author of The Wounded Heart: Writing on Cherríe Moraga

About the Author

Diana Taylor is Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish and Director of the Hemispheric Institute on Performance and Politics at New York University. Among her books are Holy Terrors: Latin American Women Perform (coedited with Roselyn Costantino), Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s “Dirty War,” and Negotiating Performance: Gender, Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o America (with Juan Villegas), all also published by Duke University Press.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6571 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (August 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046W7SLM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,843 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Important New Book December 15, 2003
In her wonderful new book, Diana Taylor, a distinguished professor of both Spanish and performance studies, brings her areas of expertise into "conversation." Performances, she argues, are vital "acts of transfer" that transmit social knowledge, memory and a sense of identity in Latin/o American (and by extension other) cultures.
She writes, "I am not suggesting that we merely extend our analytic practice to other `Non-Western' areas. Rather, what I propose here is a real engagement between two fields that helps us rethink both." By working from the points of disconnection between area and performance studies Taylor creates a new framework for approaching performance as embodied social practice.

Shifting focus to "the live" requires new methodologies and Taylor creates exciting new theoretical tools to further this discussion. Since, in her view, much performance writing betrays the "embodiedness" it seeks to describe; Taylor coins terms that do not derive from literary sources. The repertoire of her title is her term for a "non-archival system of transfer" that can capture the ephemeral trace of performance. By providing her reader with a kind of archive of affect, Taylor makes the body central. She argues that the repertoire "allows for an alternative perspective on historical following traditions of embodied practice" instead of literary rhetoric. As an alternative to "narrative" she offers scenario, a term with a theatrical genealogy, meaning an open-ended " sketch or outline" as a way to connote colonial encounters. For example, Taylor wittily names the scenario in which we are encouraged to "overlook the displacement and disappearance of native peoples" at the root of the popular show Survivor, "Fantasy Island.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It does it's job September 13, 2013
By Gustavo
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Like the the headline says, it does it's job. I purchased this for a gen ed, and it gets me by. I find some of the readings very boring, but it does have some interesting things in it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book Worth Coming Back To July 20, 2009
By T C
Even for students and scholars outside of Latin American studies, this is a must read. Diana Taylor wears her unparalleled knowledge of performance culture lightly in this lucid and elegantly argued book. The notions of the archive and repertoire developed in the book (esp. pp. 19-23) have far-reaching implications for performance studies.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vital Intervention February 15, 2006
Taylor's "The Archive and the Repertoire" is an absolute must-read for all scholars and students in performance studies, cultural studies, Latin American studies, and the social sciences in general.

Drawing on a diverse range of case studies from a Peruvian community theatre troupe to Univision astrologist Walter Mercado to her own firsthand account of witnessing 9/11, Taylor creates a new vocabulary for describing how cultures remember and re-enact with the body.

Although her insights are crucial for the future of performance studies and useful to senior scholars in the field, she writes with a clarity and personality that will engage undergraduate students as well.

VERY highly recommended.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! December 2, 2007
This is an excellent book. Diana Taylor is a wonderful writer and anyone interested in performance studies and/or theatre of conversion will benefit from reading it.
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