Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Destruction and Regeneration of Worlds Through Performance
by Castillo, Maria Regina Firmino, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2018, 185; 10816355
Abstract (Summary)

This theoretical dissertation examines the relationships between performance and the regeneration of worlds targeted for destruction by genocidal coloniality. Building on the unpublished writings of Raphaël Lemkin (in Docker 2010), Firmino Castillo argues that genocide is imbricated with coloniality in a complex process involving mass killings as well as ontological violence. She draws from Freya Mathews (2005) and Mario Blaser’s (2010) critiques of modernity to identify three ontological tenets associated with genocidal coloniality: that some persons are considered objects, that matter is thought to be inert, and that some humans are thought to be autonomous of an ecological matrix. The author examines how these tenets were performed by the Guatemalan state during the genocidal counterinsurgency campaign leveled against Ixil Maya communities during the height (1979–1985) of the thirty-six-year war that ended in 1996. This analysis of ontological violence sets the stage for an exploration of performance as an insistent regeneration of Ixil ontological understandings of an agentive and relational world. Firmino Castillo participated in diverse performance practices—from the quotidian to the ceremonial to the experimental—while living in Nab’aa’ (“Nebaj” in Spanish), an Ixil Maya town in the northwestern highlands of Guatemala, between 2010 and 2014. In consonance with her social-positioning as a family and community member—as well as a cultural worker, performance-maker, and critical scholar—Firmino Castillo employed dialogical performance ethnography (Conquergood 2002) and intersubjective “border dialogues” (Blaser 2010), epistemological approaches that engage ontologies on their own terms while reflexively interrogating positivist knowledge production. Through these means, Firmino Castillo found that these embodied ontological practices underscore the ontological workings of what Gerald Vizenor (1998) termed “survivance,” understood here as an active resistance to the three tenets of coloniality through the embodied and storied insistence on complex relational personhoods and persistent enactments of inextricable relationality within a living and agentive material world. Finally, in the epilogue Firmino Castillo critiques her difficulties with the border dialogue while, nonetheless, charting possible paths forward in the sustained ontological critique of genocidal coloniality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wells, Jennifer
Commitee: Blaser, Mario, Deslauriers, Daniel
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Keywords: Dance, Decoloniality, Ixil Maya, Performance, Theater
Publication Number: 10816355
ISBN: 9780355992267
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