September 8, 2011
During the fall 2011 semester, I will be facilitating an autoethnographic performance lab as part of my M.F.A. thesis. I seek to create an inter-racial ensemble of women to engage in a generative autoethnographic performance practice that explores the ways that hegemonic whiteness impacts our lives and identities. Ultimately, my goal is for our work to expose the insidiousness and constructedness of hegemonic whiteness as a way to destabilize it.
For the first seven weeks of the semester we will meet every Tuesday from 6:30-9:30, when we engage in creative community building activities, share autoethnographic performances, discuss selected texts and reflect on our process. Snacks will always be provided. In the final three weeks we will meet twice weekly in preparation for our public performance in late November, just before Thanksgiving. The exact date and time will be determined once the ensemble has been created. In addition to being an inter-racial group, I seek to create an ensemble that is diverse in terms of nationality/region, sexual orientation, gender expression, and class background. Participants must be able to attend all sessions (or at least most) and must be willing to create and share autoethnographic performances, first with the group and then in a performance for an invited audience.
Who am I?
Nicole Gurgel, a community-engaged, justice-minded artist-activist-scholar. Currently I am working on my M.F.A. in the Performance as Public Practice program at the University of Texas at Austin. This thesis project springs out of seven years of grassroots performance-making that focused on issues of justice.
What is this project?
This thesis project explores autoethnographic performance as a practice particularly well-suited to exposing hegemonic whiteness. According to Tami Spry, autoethnography is, “a self-narrative that critiques the situatedness of self with others in social contexts”. More than autobiography or memoir, autoethnography acknowledges and examines the socio-historical “situatedness” of its author – taking into account factors such as race, gender, sexuality and class. And while the self is at the center of inquiry, the autoethnographer examines herself with critical distance; to quote Spry, “in autoethnographic performance self is other. This simultaneous inward and outward gaze is the exact quality that makes autoethnographic performance such a useful tool by which to rhetorically and performatively destabilize hegemonic whiteness.
Interested? Curious? Please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org / (651) 895-9206