HKAC Art Shop Inspiration series x Lingnan University 50th Anniversary Lecture Series (2017 – 2018)
Towards an Activist Praxis in Performing Arts Research
McAulay Studio, LB/F Hong Kong Arts Centre
30/03/2018 2pm - 4pm
In the past four decades, there has been a humanistic turn in performing arts research. Activist scholars have called for the development of research strategies that privilege the voices and the concerns of the communities they study. In line with this call, this presentation argues for the move towards participatory dialogic approaches in two community projects in Penang: (i) revitalization of the endangered Potehi glove puppet theatre and (ii) musical-theatre for young people that promotes cultural interaction for peace building. Central to the strategies is the collaboration and partnership of the researcher with the tradition bearers, students, members of the community including young people in all aspects of research, documentation and performance. This type of people-centered collaborative research approach strives for more horizontal and equal relations between the researcher and the research subjects. This paper assesses the potentials, tensions, and contradictions emerging from the encounter of community engagement and scholarly activism, and calls for a change in the training of performing arts researchers.

Tan Sooi Beng is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. She is the author of Bangsawan: A Social and Stylistic History of Popular Malay Opera (Oxford University Press, 1993), and co-author of Music of Malaysia: Classical, Folk and Syncretic Traditions (Routledge, 2017) and Longing for the Past, the 78 RPM Era in Southeast Asia (Dust-to-Digital 2013), which won the joint SEM Bruno Nettl Prize, 2014. Tan is the Editor-in-Chief of Wacana Seni, Journal of Arts Discourse, serves in the Advisory Editorial Board of Asian Music (USA), and is an elected Board Member of the International Council for Traditional Music and the Asia-Pacific Society for Ethnomusicology. She is actively engaged in the practice of community theatre for young people and the revitalization of the multicultural heritage of Penang.

Soo Ryon Yoon is an assistant professor of performance studies in the Department of Cultural Studies at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. Her research interests in performance, Korea-Africa relations, and racial politics in contemporary South Korea have shaped her manuscript-in-progress tentatively titled, Choreographing Affinities: Performance and Transnational Blackness in Korea. Soo Ryon Yoon’s writings are published or forthcoming in <비틈> (web), Theatre Journal, Journal of Contemporary Research in Dance (当代舞蹈艺术研究), positions: asia critique, Dancing East Asia (Emily Wilcox and Katherine Mezur, eds), ASAP/J, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and was previously a postdoctoral associate in the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University.

Organised by the Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University
Co-organised by Hong Kong Arts Centre
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