The Showroom

Object Positions Public Lecture 4 | Melissa Blanco Borelli: Dancing, Thinking, Sensing, Feeling: Corporeal Practices and Discourses on Decolonisation

Thursday 15 June
Free, no booking required


Followed by a moderated conversation with Avery Gordon.

Dance studies’ critical engagement with its object of study –the body—is what makes the discipline unique in institutions that have historically privileged the mind over the body. Dance studies marvels at the body: the body moving through space in time, what it signifies, articulates, materializes, erases, and highlights. The moving/dancing body offers much potential--politically, socially, historically, and aesthetically--corporealizing discourses that question what Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano calls the “coloniality of power.” Similarly, in her Gestures of the Body – Escribiendo para idear, Chicana author Gloria Anzaldúa calls for “a new aesthetics, an entirely embodied artistic practice that synthesizes identity formation with cultural change and movement among multiple realities.”

Join us, as Melissa Blanco Borelli presents her thinking on how certain dance practices can help bring about this “new aesthetic” that rejects the colonial matrix of power and materializes something at the border between language, sensation, and thought. Ultimately, this talk will consider how we might broaden the idea of knowledge production with and through the body.

Melissa Blanco Borelli is Senior Lecturer in the Dance at Royal Holloway, University of London. Prior to 2013, she was in the Dance Department at University of Surrey. She has a BA in International Relations and Music from Brown University, an MA in Communications from the Annenberg School at University of Southern California, and received her PhD in Dance History and Theory (now Critical Dance Studies) from University of California, Riverside. Her research explores: the Cuban mulata, Cuban cultural history, Afro-Cuban sacred and social dance, popular dance on screen, black performance theory, the body (corporeality and embodiment), performance ethnography, feminist historiography, auto-ethnography, embodied identity politics, dance theatre devising, and performative writing. 

Avery F. Gordon is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Visiting Professor at Birkbeck School of Law University of London. Her most recent books are The Hawthorn Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins (forthcoming from Fordham University Press), The Workhouse: The Breitenau Room (with Ines Schaber) and Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Her work focuses on radical thought and practice, imprisonment, and other forms of dispossession. She serves on the Editorial Committee of the journal Race & Class and is the co-host of No Alibis, a weekly public affairs radio program on KCSB FM Santa Barbara.

This is the fourth lecture in the Object Positions lecture series led by curatorial fellow Teresa Cisneros. Object Positions is a year long programme of conversations, workshops, research and events exploring decolonial processes, colonial administrations and cultural equity.

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