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Commemorating Dwight Conquergood

Late Northwestern professor to be celebrated in “Cultural Struggles” symposium

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May 14, 2014 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- In an obituary for Dwight Conquergood, the Chicago Tribune wrote that his desire to apply the discipline of performance studies him took him, among other places, to live in refugee camps in Thailand and the Gaza Strip and in impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. Ten years after his death, a symposium honoring the late scholar, activist and Northwestern professor of performance studies will take place May 16 and 17.

The two-day symposium will be held at the John Evans Alumni Center, 1800 Sheridan Road, on the University’s Evanston campus. It celebrates “Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis,” a collection of previously published essays by Conquergood.

The book was edited and contains an introduction by E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern’s Carlos Montezuma Professor of African American Studies and Performance Studies. The two met in 1990, when Conquergood screened “The Heart Broken in Half,” an ethnographic documentary he co-produced about Chicago’s Latin King street gang, and Johnson was a graduate student.

The symposium will feature tributes to Conquergood, performances and opportunities to engage with Conquergood’s work through panels on performance theory, performance ethnography and performance praxis. Many of his colleagues and former students from around the country will participate.

Joe Roach, Sterling Professor of Theater and English at Yale University, will give the keynote address. A live performance based on Conquergood’s scholarship and directed by D. Soyini Madison, chair of performance studies in the School of Communication, and Jade Huell, inaugural Black Performing Arts Fellow in performance studies, will be presented.

In addition to “The Heart Broken in Half,” Conquergood co-produced “Between Two Worlds: The Hmong Shaman in America,” an award-winning documentary based on his research. His work on new immigrants in Chicago was featured in the PBS documentary, “America Becoming.”

For more detailed information about the symposium, visit http://www.communication.northwestern.edu/departments/performancestudies/files/Conquergood.pdf.