The Politics of Presence

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 75 illustrations Published: August 2020

Author: Diana Taylor

Latin American Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies, Theater and Performance > Performance Art

In ¡Presente! Diana Taylor asks what it means to be physically and politically present in situations where it seems that nothing can be done. As much an act, a word, an attitude, a theoretical intervention, and a performance pedagogy, Taylor maps ¡presente! at work in scenarios ranging from conquest, through colonial enactments and resistance movements, to present moments of capitalist extractivism and forced migration in the Americas. ¡Presente!—present among, with, and to; a walking and talking with others; an ontological and epistemic reflection on presence and subjectivity as participatory and relational, founded on mutual recognition—requires rethinking and unlearning in ways that challenge colonial epistemologies. Showing how knowledge is not something to be harvested but a process of being, knowing, and acting with others, Taylor models a way for scholarship to be present in political struggles.


“Diana Taylor advances a timely and necessary theorization of the politics of performance, delivering nuanced and heartfelt analysis of the creative strategies of artists and activists who labor to intervene in historical and contemporary injustices across the Americas. Showcasing Taylor as a scholar, activist, and accomplice present at the site of performance, ¡Presente! is an intellectually brilliant and crucial model of politically engaged theory.” — Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, coeditor of Blacktino Queer Performance

“A major project drawn from a life's work of travel, searching, introspection, and unceasing political commitment to and collaborations with artists and activists, ¡Presente! is a work of great power, poetics, and political impact.” — Josh Kun, University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication

"For a work so theoretically rigorous, ¡Presente! stands out for its wide legibility. By foregoing unnecessary academic jargon and taking pains to explain her own ethical entanglements in plain English, Taylor’s scholarship makes for a surprisingly smooth read, though it is at times heartbreaking: she does not minimize the grimmer aspects of her subject matter, which include devastating accounts of kidnappings, torture, and genocide. The uninitiated reader will find her writing clear and unpretentious, and may discover that her gloss of the postcolonial canon does much to demystify." — Sam Adrien Smith, Full Stop


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Diana Taylor is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish at New York University. She is the author and editor of several books, including Performance; The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas; and Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's “Dirty War,” all also published by Duke University Press. Taylor was founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics from 1998 to 2020. In 2018 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prologue: Jumping the Fence  ix
1. ¡Presente!  1
2. Enacting Refusal: Political Animatives  45
3. Camino Largo: The Zapatistas' Long Road toward Autonomy  67
4. Making Presence  105
5. Traumatic Memes  127
6. We Have Always Been Queer  153
7. Tortuous Routes: Four Walks through Villa Grimaldi  175
8. Dead Capital  203
9. The Decision Dilemma  226
Epilogue  245
Notes  251
Bibliography  299
Index  321
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0944-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0855-2