The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the University of Connecticut Puppets Arts Program, with the support of a UConn School of Fine Arts Anti-Racism Research Grant, are hosting a free international online symposium on systemic racism and the representation of foreigners and minorities in puppetry and allied art forms on April 9-10. The symposium is free but advanced registration is required. The “Representing Alterity through Puppetry and Performing Objects” Symposium is organized by UConn School of Fine Arts professors Matthew Cohen, Jungmin Song, and Ballard Institute director John Bell. The symposium is free but advanced registration is required.
Scholars and artists from Brazil, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the US will be engaged for two days investigating how puppetry and allied forms in societies globally reflect and perpetuate systemic and pervasive racism and bias, imagine diversity, allow minorities to achieve visibility, play with and resist ethnic and racial identifications and categories, and problematize and challenge histories of representation of the Other. Puppets, masks, and other performing objects are used around the world to represent and stage the Other—various ethnicities and races considered different from dominant groups. Such dramatizations of alterity routinely involve exotification, exaggeration, and caricature. Puppetry and related forms also can transcend social categories and resist oppressive systems such as colonialism, often through humor.
Highlights include a keynote address by Professor Marvin Carlson, Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, on the representation of foreigners in Arabic shadow puppet plays; and papers on the political use of effigies of Barack Obama, depictions of Muslims in traditional Sicilian puppetry, African-American ventriloquist John W. Cooper, contemporary artist and puppeteer Kara Walker, foreigners in Chinese puppet plays, foreign mercenaries in Javanese shadow puppetry, exhibiting blackface puppets in German museums, Romanis and Jews in Slovakian puppetry, the representation of foreign enemies in European puppetry of World War I, contemporary European puppetry dealing with Palestinian refugees, and Orientalism in the use of so-called bunraku puppetry in opera.
To register for sessions of this free symposium, and to view the entire symposium schedule, please visit bimp.uconn.edu/alterity-symposium. For more information about the event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860-486-8580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.