Acts of Activism: Human Rights as Radical Performance

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Overview

This book was first published in 2010. Madison presents the neglected yet compelling and necessary story of local activists in South Saharan Africa who employ modes of performance as tactics of resistance and intervention in their day-to-day struggles for human rights. The dynamic relationship between performance and activism are illustrated in three case studies: Act One presents a battle between tradition and modernity as the bodies of African women are caught in the cross-fire. Act Two focuses on 'water democracy' as activists fight for safe, accessible public water as a human right. Act Three examines the efficacy of street performance and theatre for development in the oral histories of Ghanaian gender activists. Unique to this book is the continuing juxtaposition between the everyday performances of local activism and their staged enactments before theatre audiences in Ghana and the USA. Madison beautifully demonstrates how these disparate sites of performance cohere in the service of rights, justice, and activism.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If this world is badly broken, Acts of Activism provides some powerfully subtle ways in which everyday humans might hope to mend it. This book transports you to small spectacles of dumbfounding damage then sifts their routine horrors to release whisperings that heal. It wisely just nods toward fiscal forces which obscenely shrug-off self-interest, triggering tipping points that dislodge despair so truth can speak disarmingly to power. The global statistics are familiar: the wealthiest 793 people are worth slightly more than the annual income of the 3.25 billion (48% of total) who live below the poverty line, the population-bomb is expanding at 1.1% (77 million) a year, military expenditures constitute 2% of rising gross world product. This is the skewed topography that Soyini Madison patiently, provocatively and oh so productively traverses with notebook, Dictaphone, camcorder and endlessly sharp compassion. Conserving small stories voiced by the wretched of the Earth and their champions, she fashions a delicately robust congregation of anthropology, oral history, ethics, theatre, politics and performance that sings out terrifically for justice. Unassumingly rigorous, accessibly written, profoundly practical, these Acts of Activism are seductively set to inspire a radical intelligence of feeling that could well bring about change, perhaps to what matters most: that murmuring in our hearts."
-Baz Kershaw, Bristol, 2009.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521519229
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2010
  • Series: Theatre and Performance Theory Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

D. Soyini Madison is Professor of Performance Studies and Anthropology at Northwestern University.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations viii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Act I Is it a human being or a girl? 34

Scene 1 Watching So Minutes 34

Scene 2 Deep particularities 60

Scene 3 Klikor, the sage, and the chief 67

Scene 4 Graduation day 86

Act II Water rites/rights 97

Scene 1 "Then do it!" 97

Scene 2 The sense of being present 124

Scene 3 The aim to provoke 139

Scene 4 Who am I in all this? 148

Act III Acts of activism 157

Scene 1 The white girl upstairs 157

Scene 2 Don't cry, wail 172

Scene 3 I am an activist 187

Scene 4 Narrating Theatre for Development 201

Epilogue 224

Appendices: Scripts 229

Appendix 1 Is it a human being or a girl? 231

Appendix 2 Water rites 268

Bibliography 305

Index 318

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