Contemporary PerforMemory

Dancing through Spacetime, Historical Trauma, and Diaspora in the 21st Century

Contemporary PerforMemory looks at dance works created in the 21st century by choreographers identifying as Afro-European, Jewish, Black, Palestinian, and Taiwanese-Chinese-American. It explores how contemporary dance-makers engage with historical traumas such as the Shoah and the Maafa to reimagine how the past is remembered and how the future is anticipated. The new idea of perforMemory arises within a lively blend of interdisciplinary theory, interviews, performance analysis, and personal storytelling. Scholar and artist Layla Zami traces unexpected pathways, inviting the reader to move gracefully across disciplines, geographies, and histories.

Featuring insightful interviews with seven international artists: Oxana Chi, Zufit Simon, André M. Zachery, Chantal Loïal, Wan-Chao Chang, Farah Saleh, and Christiane Emmanuel.

»Carefully thought out and clearly written and presented, Contemporary PerforMemory makes a significant contribution to several fields: memory studies, dance studies, postcolonial studies, diaspora studies, affect studies, as well as scholarly reflections on the archive, on embodiment, the emotions and movement, all from an informed, critical feminist perspective. Zami makes surprising connections that reveal important resonances between shared histories of remembrance.«
(Prof. Marianne Hirsch, Columbia University)

»Zami is committed to a rigorous methodology in order to think through and theorize contemporary dance in diaspora. Her book is intercultural and cross-cultural and demonstrates an understanding of race and gender from the perspective of someone who can think globally. This, combined with a discerning critical eye for reading unique contemporary performance, has yielded a remarkable body of research.«
(Prof. Nadine George-Graves, Chair of Dance, Ohio State University)

»Layla Zami's concept of ›perforMemory‹ applied to dance creates a fascinating intricate network between historical trauma, diaspora, resistance and empowerment, moving from embodying the past to representing the present with a vision of the future ‒ expressed so well in Oxana Chi's choreographic work. I love the book's poetic language, and I dove into its linguistic paintings, most new to me and challenging in an intriguing way. I will enjoy reading more.«
(Dr. Dagmar Schultz, Prof. emerita, Alice-Salomon University of Applied Sciences / John F. Kennedy Institute of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin)

39,00 € *

21. Dezember 2020, 292 Seiten
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5525-4

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Layla Zami

Layla Zami, Pratt Institute NY, USA

1. Why did you choose this topic?

When I attended the dance piece Through Gardens (Durch Gärten) for the first time in Berlin, Germany, I was mesmerized by the choreography's storytelling: the past could be seen and sensed with multiple layers and textures otherwise lacking in institutional narratives. I was touched by Oxana Chi's visceral performance on stage, and by her ability to address traumatic European pasts while uplifting the audience's spirit in the present. This key experience prompted me to explore how dance can shape our cultural memory.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

My book offers new way to think of the relations between bodies, spacetime, and diaspora. The work introduces cutting-edge choreographers from across the globe. The combination of a rich interdisciplinary body of work with a close observant participation and an inherently transcultural perspective reflecting my multicultural heritage provide a unique lens.

3. What makes your concept of perforMemory relevant for current research debates?

My body of research has inspired many scholars of all ages to transcend conventional markers of history and geography are transcended. The idea of perforMemory becomes particularly relevant now that the body and its movements are at the core of societal debates. What gets stored in the body? What does it mean to move across stories, borders, and cultural legacies? How can we tap into the power of corporeality to advance our understanding of the past and our imagination of the future?

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

I wish my paternal grandmother was still alive, because she was a sublime dancer from Bochum who studied at the Folkwang School and whose dance career was disrupted in 1933. She survived WWII and lived until the age of 98! Nostalgia asides, I would like to discuss my book with anyone who read it: scholars, dancers, students, people interested in postcolonial and memory studies, I think the potential readership is as broad as the scope of the book. I look forward to being in conversation with you all!

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

A poetic research meditation on the power of moving bodies to inform and transform our relation to memory and spacetime.

O-Ton: »How does PerforMemory engage with ideas such as multidirectional memory and remembering? « – Layla Zami in the interview at the Minor Constellation Podcast on 21.10.2021.
»Eine wichtige Zeitaufnahme künstlerischer Auseinandersetzungen der Topoi Vertreibung, Migration, Unterdrückung, Empowerment und Widerstand. Innerhalb dieser aktuellen Themen schafft es die Studie die in dem kulturwissenschaftlichen Feld der Erinnerungsforschung bisher kaum beachtete Position Tanz aufzuwerten. Das Buch von Layla Zami macht deutlich, wie wichtig die Beschäftigung mit Tanz und Diaspora ist, um bisher marginalisierte epistemologische Praktiken der kulturellen Erinnerung und Verarbeitung historischer Traumata [...] hervorzuheben.«
Karina Rocktäschel,, 14.9.2021
Layla Zami
Contemporary PerforMemory Dancing through Spacetime, Historical Trauma, and Diaspora in the 21st Century
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung, 8 SW-Abbildungen, 8 Farbabbildungen
PER003000 SOC022000 POL045000
21. Dezember 2020
Postkolonialismus, Tanz, Erinnerungskultur
Dance Studies, Memory Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Diaspora Studies, Gender Studies, Queer Studies
Dance, Memory, Diaspora, Postcolonial, Feminism, Historical Trauma, Postcolonialism, Memory Culture, Body

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