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Diasporic Dramaturgies

Diasporic Dramaturgies seeks to explore the different ways in which Blackness might manifest and be practiced across global diasporas, with specific reference to the context of dance and performance. Using a necessarily interdisciplinary lens, our explorations will move across and through Black studies; diasporic studies; visual arts, dance and performance practice; process philosophy; and performance studies to interrogate practices of Blackness and the ecologies of their performance. Building upon the Dramaturgical Ecologies research project (PI Angélique Willkie), Diasporic Dramaturgies initiates an interdepartmental, cross-faculty research group to evolve and expand this inquiry.

The group engages with the interrelation of the conceptual pillars of 'blackness' and 'dramaturgy', at the site of geography and the body. 'Blackness' (upper case B) entails the specific processes of embodiment and identification possessed by and imposed upon those of African or Afro-diasporic origin. As a decidedly anticolonial positioning, ‘blackness’ (lower case b) becomes a phenomenon that sits beyond ontologies. 'Dramaturgy' is the process of in-gathering the physical, material and creative elements of a performance work according to a logic that is itself emergent. Through the interrelation of these anchors, we seek to examine the ecologies of Black performance - their relation to place, and the nexus of circumstances that contribute to the embodiments that inform performative expressions of B/blackness.


  • Angélique Willkie, Associate Professor, Department of Contemporary Dance (Faculty of Fine Arts)

Key questions:

  • How is B/blackness practiced across the multiplicities of its global diaspora?
  • What are the relationships to place embedded in the concept of the Black diasporic? How does the concept of the Black diasporic generate its own relationships to place?
  • What approaches might be engaged or developed that foster different practices of black dramaturgy, beyond Black identity
  • How does the ongoing legacy of settler colonialism position and call for particular modes of performance, embodiment and gesturality? What apositionalities exist - both articulated and in germ - to work across and against these particular regimes of embodiment and movement?

Group members

  • Erin Manning, Professor, Research Chair, Speculative Pragmatism, Art and Pedagogy (Faculty of Fine Arts)
  • Bradley Craig, Assistant Professor, Department of History (Faculty of Arts and Science)
  • VK Preston, Assistant Professor, Department of History (Faculty of Arts and Science)
  • Deanna Bowen, Assistant Professor, Studio Arts, (Faculty of Fine Arts)
  • MJ Thompson, Associate Professor, Art Education, (Faculty of Fine Arts)
  • Matthew-Robin Nye, PhD Humanities candidate
  • Dana Dugan, PhD Humanities student
  • Danielle Garrison, PhD Humanities student
  • Diane Roberts, PhD Humanities student
  • Vanessa Montesi, PhD candidate, Universidade de Lisboa, Centre for Comparative Studies (CEC).
  • Shaya Ishaq, Research Fellow, Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology.
  • Kelann Currie-Williams, PhD Humanities student
  • Peng Hsu, PhD Humanities student
  • Carlos Eduardo Mello, PhD Humanities student (Student Coordinator)


1. Diasporic Dramaturgies Surveys
Event Details: Once per month, Diasporic Dramaturgies will meet in person (with a zoom component) to engage with canonical and contemporary scholarship in the fields of Black, performance, and diasporic studies. We will search for expression and definition of diasporic Blackness in gesture, memory, and archival trace, in texts by Paul Gilroy, Édouard Glissant, Stuart Hall, Joseph Roach, Dianna Taylor, Nadine George-Graves, Hortense Spillers, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, and others.

2. Ground Provisions, Colloquium Residency.
Date: December 14-17, 2022, time TBC

Event Details: The colloquium "Ground Provisions" is hosted by the Dramaturgical Ecologies research group, funded by the SSHRC Connections Grant Murmurations, and features keynote speaker Bayo Akomolafe (Nigeria/India). Invited guests are practitioners in dance and dance dramaturgy, Black studies scholars, and graduate students, representing a convergence from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Faculty and students from the CISSC working group Diasporic Dramaturgies will be invited to participate, forming a respondent panel to witness, hold and carry the potential of the event’s proceedings to subsequent meetings of the reading group.

3. Closing Event and Keynote Speaker, April 2023 (details TBC)

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