The Archive and the Repertoire

Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas

The Archive and the Repertoire

a John Hope Franklin Center Book

More about this series

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 111 b&w photos Published: September 2003

Author: Diana Taylor

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

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.


"A timely collection of essays. . . .Taylor weaves together insights, examples, and critical strategies from [performance studies and Latina/o American studies] and her exemplary book makes a major contribution to both." — Marvin Carlson, TDR: The Drama Review

"Excellent. . . . Both in its impressive range, . . . and in its insistence on exploring non-dominant forms of processing experience, Taylor's book is a crucial contribution to the emerging cartographies of global Latin/o American cultures." — Juan Poblette, The Americas

"One of the most wide-ranging studies of performance in and of the Americas today. Taylor has masterfully brought together, in a work that is an act of performance itself, both the contradictions and the possibilities of performance studies and the histories and trajectories of Latin/o American hemispheric studies into a 'loosely structured arrangement.'" — Alberto Guevara, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"Persuasively argued and elegantly theorized, The Archive and the Repertoire constitutes a necessary intervention in performance scholarship." — Lisa Wolford Wylam, Theatre Research International

"Taylor's work is an important step in acknowledging marginalized expressions of cultural memory. Its most notable contribution is undoubtedly a defense of the growing field of performance studies as a tool of decolonization." — Katherine M. Hedeen, Latin American Research Review

"The book is itself both a performance and a contribution to the archive. The remarkably effective way in which [Taylor] combines personal story with analytic reflection is a fitting demonstration of the usefulness that can result from being able to sustain an awareness of one's spatio-temporal role as an observer even as one gets lost in the findings of archival discovery." — Dianna Niebylski, Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies

"While I am trained to appreciate Taylor's analyses of Latino/a theatre and performance, I was most moved and surprised by her discussion of September 11 in chapter 9. As Taylor shows, the abundance of media attention and commentary produced after the destruction of the Twin Towers obscured the lives of nonheroes and nonvictims and turned all of them into spectators. Her testimony as scholar and participant in the events surrounding the attack is enlightening, but also refreshing." — Margo Milleret, Theatre Journal

“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


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Price: $28.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Who, When, What, Why xiii

1. Acts of Transfer 1

2. Scenarios of Discovery: Reflections on Performance and Ethnography 53

3. Memory as Cultural Practice: Mestizaje, Hybridity, Transculturation 79

4. La Raza Cosmetica: Walter Mercado Performs Latino Psychic Space 110

5. False Identifications: Minority Populations Mourn Diana 133

6. "You Are Here": H.I.J.O.S. and the DNA of Performance 161

7. Staging Traumatic Memory: Yuyachkani 190

8. Denise Stoklos: The Politics of Decipherability 212

9. Lost in the Field of Vision: Witnessing September 11 237

10. Hemispheric Performances 266

Notes 279

Bibliography 303

Index 321
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Winner, 2003 Research Award in Theatre Practice and Pedagogy, Association for Theater in Higher Education

Winner, 2004 Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, Modern Language Association

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3123-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3136-0
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