Why Staging Our Histories? This project was born out of a class that the three of us took in the last semester of our Master’s degree in Public History at Carleton University. While exploring the place of narrative and performance in the historian’s craft, we were pushed to create and share performances of our own. The results were truly spectacular. We were blown away by the power and emotive force of the histories that our class shared with one another.
While working on a performance piece for our class, I found that my personal and academic interests in colonial and imperial histories which have, in so many ways, shaped my life directly and indirectly, could be conveyed in affective ways not possible through text alone. The Kathak dance piece I choreographed and performed on an encounter with the colonial archive became a way for me to combine my interest in Indian dance(s) with India’s colonial history. Most of all, though, it became a way for me to express the experience of ‘doing’ that history, and embrace the emotional aspects of that process, which can at times be fraught.
For me, Staging Our Histories is about opening up a space for people – academics, artists, and performers from all walks of life – to explore the emotive and physical processes of remembering, telling, and ‘doing’ history. But it is equally about sharing our histories in the diverse ways we have come to know them.