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Improvised Futures

Encountering the Body in Performance

Edited by Ranjana Dave

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Improvised Futures: Encountering the Body in Performance

In an atmosphere of growing authoritarianism, how can we draw attention to performance as a transaction of sensorial agency – the right to be seen, heard, recognized – the right to be palpable? Improvised Futures attempts to frame performance as doing, as fraught negotiations of agency and identity. As it considers the performative effect of a range of ideas, actions and situations that have shaped society and defined cultural expression since the 1990s, it frames the body as a site of radical imagination. The volume comprises texts and artworks by artists, academics and activists, placing these works in conversation with each other in order to elicit new meanings and connections.

India Since the 90s (general editor: Ashish Rajadhyaksha) is a series of six titles exploring recent history from the standpoint of the present moment. As we face new and unprecedented phenomena in the twenty-first century, along with the new, there is also a ghostly re-evocation of things we have seen and done that relentlessly suggest that we may have been here before. Familiar forms and arguments become curiously prescient revealing new relevance. This series includes texts and images from diverse academic disciplines, curated and assembled by practitioners looking back to reconsider our past.

Ranjana Dave

Ranjana Dave is an independent dance practitioner and writer. She is Programmes Director at Gati Dance Forum and has also taught at Ambedkar University Delhi and Ashoka University.

The volume, more bricolage than book, brings together a series of mostly pre-existing writings and visuals produced by some eminent names, and generates renewed conversations around the existing debates that swirl around the body and performance, and the body in performance. ... Remarkably, instead of a typical collection of academic essays and articles, what we have is an interspersion of theatre and documentary scripts, Rohit Vemula’s suicide note, first-person ruminations by performers, as well as theories and analyses. ... Divided into four sections, the book with its extensive annotations creatively illustrates the possibility of academic volumes becoming a space for engagement between theorists and practitioners. Together, the sections trace historical and philosophical contemplations about the body in performance, and its sociological and cultural fashioning.

Gita Jayaraj, The Hindu, 17 March 2022