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Sandrine Schaefer: Convergence 2015 @Austin, Texas, USA

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Convergence 2015 | Collectivities in TransMigration: Animating Bodies Across Borders

November 19-22, 2015 – Austin, Texas, USA

Convergence 2015 | Collectivities in TransMigration: Animating Bodies Across Borders attends to the myriad points of connection among bodies, ideologies, and spiritualities beyond (and within) national borders. Despite the specificity of the politics practiced in different countries, some social and political scenarios—such as the genocide of black and indigenous populations, the criminalization of social movements, and capitalism and its multiple forms of dispossession—operate beyond the borders of the nation-state. As a consequence, different forms of collectivities have emerged, united by the convergence of their political and affective experiences and by the exchange of resistance strategies that have TransMigrated through different means. The prefix “Trans-” in “TransMigration” expands our understanding of what and who can migrate, and of when, where, and how these migrations occur. Across the Americas, collectivities are animated, for example, through shared racial, gender, and sexual experiences, ideologies, foodways, memories, transtemporalities, and politics, resulting in expanded nationalities that respond to but also resist geographical and physical boundaries. TransMigration creates these multifaceted relationships and communities, which may exist in a single geographic location, straddle national and cultural borders, or be imagined communities emerging from various networks and communions.

Convergence 2015 is an invitation to animate collectivities throughout the Americas. Animation evokes multiple processes of multimedia creations, animism, corporeal and transcendent states of being, and geographical mapping. This Hemi GSI Convergence draws together activism, scholarly discourses, and artistic practices in order to animate TransMigration. Our guiding questions include: How do collectivities experience transferences across borders? How do socio-political scenarios build transnational collectivities? How do new configurations of socio-political networks question the very notion of “collectivities” and offer new forms of connections and communions? How do migrating ideas, experiences, and collectivities disrupt binaries? In what ways are bodies transtemporal? How does a whole collectivity TransMigrate into a single body, and vice versa? How do we animate migrating ancestors? How is our Convergence part of these TransMigratory collectivities?

The Convergence 2015 organizers invite interested scholars, artists, and activists to submit proposals to participate in one of our workgroups or workshops. While workgroups facilitate discussion and theorization through the sharing of academic research, workshops encourage discussion and theorization through practical/physical work. Workgroup and workshop participants will begin collaborating online in the months prior to the Convergence to explore methods that will collectively produce new strategies for innovating both knowledge and practice. Descriptions of our workgroups and workshops can be found below.

 Workshop: [Female] Bodies + Borders [of Femininity]

Co-conveners: Luiza Prado de O. Martins (University of the Arts Berlin), Natália da Silva Perez (Freie Universität Berlin), Sandrine Schaefer (Art Institute of Chicago)

Exploring the body as a site of provocation, this workshop investigates different ways in which gender is constructed/challenged/destroyed within this site.Using borders between femininity and queerness, as well as fertility and contraception, as guiding themes, this workshop utilizes site-specific strategies to investigate how these concepts have shifted and changed between past and present, and to imagine how they might continue to change in the future. With the goal of collaboratively creating a broad account of these possible futures, as well as imagining speculative accounts of the past, this workshop immerses participants in a speculative timeframe, rather than asking them to approach the subject through a removed, present-day perspective. In order to do so, it explores how the ‘suspension of disbelief’ might intersect with the site-ing of one’s knowledge by creating collaborative narratives. Departing from an analysis of their individual experiences, participants will be asked to approach the intersecting subjects of body, fertility and contraception by writing, abstracting, speculating, and performing their past and future.

In addition to acknowledging how time lives in the body, this workshop locatestransient spaces on campus as sites of tension and curiosity to realize site-sensitive body-based actions. This approach to transient space addresses fluid/liminal expressions of the self, leading participants to developstrategies to enunciate with the body in various environments in ways that confront/explore/gain power from/challenge/dismantle/wreck concepts of femininity in performance. 

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