Explores how theater artists challenge the legacy of colonialism in Latin America through performance

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The figure of the freak as perceived by the Western gaze has always been a part of the Latin American imaginary, from the letters that Columbus wrote about his encounters with dog-faced people to Shakespeare's Caliban. The freak acquires greater significance in a globalized, neoliberal world that defines the "abnormal" as one who does not conform mentally, physically, or emotionally and is unable or unwilling to follow the economic and cultural norms of the institutions in power. Freak Performances examines the continuing effects of colonialism on modern Latin American identities, with a particular focus on the way it has constructed the body of the other through performance. Theater questions the representations of these bodies, as it enables the empowerment of the silenced other; the freak as a spectacle of otherness finds in performance an opportunity for re-appropriation by artists resisting the dominant authority. Through an analysis of experimental theater, dance theater, performance art, and gallery-based installation art across eight countries, Analola Santana explores the theoretical issues shaped by the encounters and negotiations between different bodies in the current Latin American landscape.

Analola Santana is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Dartmouth College.

 “Santana cleverly locates her study in defining and re-defining abject bodies within the heavy weight of colonization that Latin America has suffered from the time of the conquest to today . . . [She] finds how these ‘freak’ bodies have encountered, resisted, and hoped for a better present and future.”
—Paola Hernández, University of Wisconsin

 “An important contribution to the scholarly debates around colonialism, coloniality, and neoliberalism through the prism of aesthetics, performance, embodiment, abjection, race, gender, sexuality, and ableisms . . . a theoretically sophisticated and eminently readable analysis of how the ‘freak’ comes to embody a broad range of deviant and non-normative positions: the queer, the colonial, the abject, the criminal, the neoliberal.”
—Diana Taylor, New York University

"Mixed with performance studies, Freak Performances also makes a significant contribution to the fields of disability studies, queer studies, and gender studies as it provides a historical legacy of the embodied freak performer. Santana’s rich discussion of freak in Latin America opens a promising exploration into modern and more deviant creatures." - Stephanie Orozco, Studies in Twentieth- and Twenty-First Century Literature

- Stephanie Orozco

"Freak Performances by Analola Santana is a major contribution to the burgeoning body of work currently being produced at the intersecting fields of Latin American, theatre, and performance studies... It is exciting to see the excellent new work now being published in Latin American theatre performance, and Freak Performances stands out for its breadth, its unusual archive, and the theoretical depth of the analysis." - Diana Taylor, TDR: The Drama Review

- Diana Taylor

"The purpose of Analola Santana’s groundbreaking study is to examine freak performances on the Latin American stage, and to engage with hegemonic discourses that delegitimize or enfreak whole sectors of Latin American society... That she also places her analyses so firmly within local, national, and international artistic contexts and that she shows herself to be fully conversant with cutting-edge discourses in critical theory (as evidenced in her case studies and her extensive bibliography) are clear indications of how the field of Latin American theatre and performance studies has achieved a high level of excellence, thanks to the talent of young scholars like Analola Santana." - Kirsten F. Nigro, Theatre Journal

- Kirsten F. Nigro

"Freak Performances is an of-the-moment deep dive into colonial and neo-liberal Latin American histories told through performance, as it also asserts the power of theatre-makers to shape future Latin American histories." - Jeanmarie Higgins, Theatre Research International

- Jeanmarie Higgins

"Freak Performances is an essential contribution to the field of Latin American theatre and performance studies. It is a meticulously researched, engaging, and highly original piece of scholarship that reflects the expertise of an author who is intimately engaged as a practitioner and scholar of theatre." - Brenda Werth, Theatre Survey

- Brenda Werth