Sean Metzger, University of California, Los Angeles
“Performing Human Traffic”
Friday, October 28, 4pm Simpson Center for the Humanities, Communications 202/204
How might ideas about performance complicate discourses of human traffic? Metzger looks at the 2004 incident at England’s Morecambe Bay, where twenty-three Chinese migrant workers lost their lives. His analysis focuses on cultural productions that respond to the incident from Nick Broomfield’s film, Ghosts, to Isaac Julien’s screen installation, Ten Thousand Waves, to Wang Ping’s poetry cycle of the same name. These artistic works attempt to account for the subjective dimensions of human traffic in an age of globalization. Metzger focalizes questions of memory and human traffic, specifically cases involving Fujianese immigrants that end in death. Rather than emphasizing the arrival of the migrants, he considers what the departed reveal in terms of networks of aesthetics, people, and capital in the wake of catastrophe. What possibilities emerge for the articulation of subjectivity? What kinds of post-mortem connections are facilitated in attempts to remember lives that previously did not matter in the media? How does the legal discourse of human traffic render visible or invisible the people it would ostensibly protect? How does one represent people who remain unseen until their corpses float into public view?
Reception and refreshments to follow in the Simpson Center.
Sean Metzger is an Associate Professor of theater and performance studies at UCLA and the president of Performance Studies international. Metzger works at the intersections of Asian American, Caribbean, Chinese, film, performance and sexuality studies. His first book, Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race, was published by Indiana University Press in 2014. Metzger has also co-edited four collections of essays: Embodying Asian/American Sexualities with Gina Masequesmay (Lexington, 2009); Futures of Chinese Cinema: Technologies and Temporalities in Chinese Screen Cultures with Olivia Khoo (Intellect, 2009); Race, Space, Place: The Making and Unmaking of Freedoms in the Atlantic World with Michaeline Crichlow (a special issue of Cultural Dynamics, Nov. 2009); Islands, Images, Imaginaries with Francisco J. Hernández Adrián and Michaeline Crichlow (a special issue of Third Text, 2014). With John Clum, he co-edited an anthology of dramatic texts entitled Awkward Stages: Plays about Growing up Gay (Cambria, 2015).
Metzger is currently a Framing the Global fellow with Indiana University and Indiana University Press for which he is working on a second book, The Chinese Atlantic: Seascapes and the Theatricality of Globalization.
The Performance Studies Research Group, sponsored by a grant from the Simpson Center for the Humanities, draws together scholars from various disciplines at UW to discuss foundational and new work in Performance Studies and to examine the broad interplay of performance, politics, and culture across the globe. This year’s offerings include two talks by invited national and international speakers and an intensive faculty writing retreat.