An international group of researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds, we come together to study historical performances of race, gender and class in the French-speaking Atlantic world.
We understand performance in the broadest sense, and our partners study the full range from traditional theatrical performance to social and street dancing, Mardi Gras masking and parading, and performances of race and gender in everyday life, in New Orleans and French/Francophone, Metropolitan and colonial contexts. As historians of theater and dance, of culture and carnival, relying on texts of law, notarial records, police archives, as well as theater and museum collections, participants seek to share their knowledge of the kinds of archives available in New Orleans as well as abroad that can help us apprehend such performances. In addition to uncovering documents in the archives we are interested in the living repertory of performance—for example, performance traditions that endure in cities that are no longer Francophone but remain marked by French social and cultural practices. Performance draws researchers interested in resistance and variation linked to languages and cultures that may be historically minor (in the face of a changing legal, national or cultural authority) but also represent minorities.
Our first event in October, 2015 co-organized by Felicia McCarren and Emily Clark, held at Tulane University and The Historic New Orleans Collection was funded by The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and the Gore Chair in French, Tulane University. Contributing institutions who funded travel for two of our participants included the CNRS (The French National Research Center, History section) and the Université de Sherbroooke, Canada.
Following on the international workshop we co-organized last year, we aim to coordinate faculty historians from the disciplines of performance, literature, visual art, music, and related fields who work in local archives on the history of performance and resistance. Our October, 2015 event on our campus featured seven accomplished scholars from France, Canada and the U.S., including Tulane faculty and two archivists working at research institutions in New Orleans.
We seek to broaden this initial working group by contacting faculty and young researchers. Our goal is to develop new projects and methods for approaching the history of performance in the Francophone Circum-Atlantic world.
With assistance from the Lavin Bernick grants at Tulane University, we are currently designing a multi-year, multi-disciplinary working group with international dimensions, anchored on our campus. We seek to connect to faculty and graduate students working on issues of identity and performance in historical contexts and using archives on our campus or in our city.
Our current goals include: recruiting more faculty on campus, connecting with faculty in related fields working on archives in the city and also with affiliations to institutions other than Tulane, both US and international. We will be applying for further funding for future events and working on liaison with archives and outreach to potentially interested archivists and faculty.