Contemporary PerforMemory: Moving Through Diasporic Dancescapes in the 21st Century

Cover Dissertation

Humboldt-University, Berlin 2018

This book explores the interrelations and interactions between memory, movement, diaspora, and space/time in 21st century solo dance productions. Layla Zami analyzes the work of seven dancers-choreographers based in Germany, France, Taiwan, Palestine, Martinique and the USA, and presents the new idea of perforMemory, creating unexpected connections between the memories of the Holocaust, the Transatlantic Slave Trade and contemporary sociopolitical challenges. Conceived in a spiral-like fashion, the book takes the reader through diasporic dancescapes in which notions of identity, home, embodiment, spatiality and temporality unfold and are brought into resonance with each other in the discussion of specific dance examples. In this transcultural, transdisciplinary, and transtemporal journey, we encounter a unique blend of theory, performance analysis, literature and autobiographic writing, as well as captivating interviews with the dance artists Oxana Chi, Zufit Simon, Wan-Chao Chang, André M. Zachery, Farah Saleh, Christiane Emmanuel and Chantal Loïal.

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A documentary film inspired by the book is currently in post-production.
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InterdepenDenken: Wie Positionierung und Intersektionalität forschend gestalten?

w_orten&meer, wissen_bewegen, Berlin 2015

Anthology on intersectionality, co-edited with the working group AK ForschungsHandeln, an international gathering of emerging and established scholars. I coined the book title InterdepenDenken, to offer a new research paradigm in the German context. The anthology presents European and non-Western perspectives on intersectional research methodologies, and explores the intersection of gender, race, class, and ableism.

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Performing Memory, UnGeHörig, Vol. 2

Humboldt-Universität, Berlin 2016 (English/German)

Bilingual anthology of academic essays, visual art and poetry on the topic of traumatic memory, co-edited with Marie Springborn. The contributions were produced by the students from my class Performing Memory.

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Other co-editing experiences include a research report for UNESCO (Paris, 2005) on the Education for All program, published during my time as a student at Sciences Po Paris.



Book Chapters

Tanzkunst als lebendige Erinnerung: Oxana Chis performative Erinnerung an Tatjana Barbakoff

In Neues Judentum – altes Erinnern? Zeiträume des Gedenkens, edited by Dimitrij Belkin, Lara Hensch, and Eva Lezzi, Hentrich&Hentrich / ELES, 2017, pp. 267–288.

An anthology with Jewish perspectives on the past, present and future of memory. My chapter discusses Oxana Chi's piece Through Gardens. It draws from my doctoral research on memory, dance performance and gender. I presented an earlier version of this article as an invited speaker for the interdisciplinary symposium series organized by ELES at Forum Humanum.

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Dancing Women’s Lives: Feminist Auto/Biographical Storytelling in Transcultural Dance Art

In Writing Women's Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography, International Symposium Paper Book, edited by Birsen Talay-KeŞoĞlu and Leyla ŞimŞek‐Rathke, Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation, Vol. 44, 2016, pp. 818-827.

The symposium was held at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, April 19th-20th, 2014.

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geh*dicht*. ein liebeslebendiges gedicht

In Sisters and Souls. Inspirationen von May Ayim, edited by Natasha A. Kelly, Orlanda Frauenverlag, 2015, pp. 241-249. [creative writing]

Anthology dedicated to May Ayim, "the Afro-German Audre Lorde".

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Oxana Chis Tänzerische Wissensschaffung: Biographische Erinnerung an Tatjana Barbakoff aus feministischer Perspektive

In Sichtbar Unsichtbar. Geschlechterwissen in (Auto-)Biographischen Texten, edited by Maria Heidegger, Nina Kogler, Ursula A. Schneider, and Annette Steinsiek, transcript, 2015, pp. 259–274.

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Ein all_zu_täglicher Tag*

In InterdepenDenken: Wie Positionierung und Intersektionalität forschend gestalten, edited by AK Forschungshandeln, w_orten&meer, 2015, pp. 72–83.

An essay blending creative and academic writing. Renewing ideas of migration, diaspora, trauma and memory, the text takes the reader on tragicomic journey in the 20th and 21st centuries.



Oxana Chi von Zopf bis Fluss: Transkulturelle Tanzkunst und alternative Geschichtsschreibung

In The Living Archive - Kulturelle Produktionen und Räume, edited by Aicha Diallo, 52-61. Foundation Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, 2013. pp. 52-61. [Commissioned article]

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Mémoire dansée, Jardins Rêvés

In Salon Qi 2011, Catalogue to the Exhibition Tanzende Erinnerungen / Mémoire dansée, Edited by Oxana Chi. li_chiverein, 2011, pp. 7-11.

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Schwarz, Rot, Gold...Alles Nur Vergangenheit?

In Salon Qi 2011, Catalogue to the Exhibition Tanzende Erinnerungen / Mémoire dansée, Edited by Oxana Chi. li_chiverein, 2011, pp. 22-26

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In Stratégies de survie des populations africaines dans une économie mondialisée: l’expérience camerounaise, edited by Kum’a Ndumbe III, Editions AfricAvenir / Exchange & Dialogue, 2007, pp. 9-52.




Dancing the Past In the Present Dance: Queer Afropean Presence in Oxana Chi's Dancescapes

In a special issue of Lambda Nordica, Postcolonial Queer Europe, vol. 2-3, 2017, pp. 126-150.

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In UnGeHörig, Berlin: Humboldt-University, no. 2, August 2016.



Oxana Chi danse d'île en île

In Madinin'Art, December 2014 [online].



Luftig-erdige Show

In Neues Deutschland, 17.08.2013



Drei Frauen, eine Spurensuche: Die Tänzerin Tatjana Barbakoff

In AVIVA, October 2012 [online].

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Mit Oxana Chi Durch Gärten

In Nah & Fern, Kulturmagazin für Migration, 45, 2010.

An essayistic exploration, through writing and photography, of the parallels between a contemporary dancer-choreographer, Oxana Chi, and a historical one, Tatjana Barbakoff.

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In Brennpunkt - Magazin für Fotografie, 4/2011.

Artist statement and portfolio about my work as a photographer

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Words of Mouth

In Tapesh: Verbindungen sprechen, Berlin: City Council / LesMigraS, 2011.

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Rendre sur scène son corps à Sawtche

In Madinin'Art, February 2011 [online].

Performance Review about Chantal Loïal's dance solo On t'appelle Vénus in memory of Sawtche/Sarah Bartmann called the Black Venus.

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200 Years Later... Commemorating the 200 Years Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

In a exhibition catalogue edited by AfricAvenir International, 2008.

Awarded UNESCO’s Toussaint Louverture Medal.
I contributed my research, writing and translation skills for the selected biographies of "Protagonists of Resistance against the European Slave Trade". The exhibition also portrayed creative methods of African resistance in the Americas and the Caribbean such as Capoeira, Blues, Candomblé, Samba and Calypso.