Commémoration

Taylor, Diana. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

“Taylor argues that performance is a “vital act of transfer” transmitting social knowledge, cultural memory, and identities in the Americas (2). Her assertions that performance functions as an episteme, a method, and an object of analysis echo the insights produced by other performance scholars (i.e., Dwight Conquergood, Peggy Phelan, Joseph Roach, Richard Schechner, and Victor Turner), whose work she engages throughout the book. But Taylor also productively complicates previously held ideas about performance by exposing the limits of the Aristotelian framework that shapes Turner’s notion of social dramas and by tracking the particular ways performance persists – its hauntology, rather than the ontology of disappearance Phelan urges. As the book’s title suggests, the roles of the archive and the repertoire in shaping cultural knowledge of and across the Americas are of central concern. For Taylor, both the archive (supposedly enduring materials, such as texts and other documents) and the repertoire (so-called ephemeral social practices, such as spoken language, gestures, and ritual) operate as valued sites of knowledge making and transmission. Taylor astutely recognizes and works against the ways that writing has come to stand in for and against embodiment and seeks to counter the historically imposed rift between archive and repertoire. Her intervention here is to validate the repertoire while refraining from characterizing it in dichotomous relationship to the archive. Instead, she seeks to explore the constant state of interaction between the two in the making of cultural meanings and social relations in the Americas.

Taylor attends to the methodological implications that arise from validating the repertoire by calling for a shift from interpreting cultural phenomena as narratives to recognizing them as scenarios or meaning making paradigms that structure social knowledge through formulaic yet adaptable performances.”

Paredez, Deborah. Review of The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Modern Drama, vol. 48 no. 3, 2005, p. 615-617. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/mdr.2006.0015.

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