In this article, I reflect on the experience of attending Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's class Performance Studies Issues and Methods at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in the 1990s. Recalling the classes and field trips to events and sites in New York City, and the emphasis that she placed on reading texts and taking field notes, I consider the lessons I learned for performance studies, anthropology, and museums, and also for teaching, research, and scholarship in general. Why did this practice of taking notes from the field, from books in particular, and the note-taking practice in general, play such a central role in Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's teaching? The steady and consistent focus both on theory and on the observation of social practices was a means of opening up new spaces for theoretical analysis or for a “performed theory,” to use Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's term.
NÉLIA DIAS is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL) and a researcher at the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA). Her research engages the history of anthropology, ethnographic and physical anthropology collections, and French colonialism. She is the author of Le Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro (1878–1908): Anthropologie et Muséologie en France (CNRS, 1991), La Mesure des Sens: Les Anthropologues et le Corps Humain au XIXe Siècle (Aubier, 2004), and she is the coeditor of the volume Endangerment, Biodiversity and Culture (Routledge, 2015). Dias was one of the authors of Collecting, Ordering, Governing: Anthropology, Museums, and Liberal Government (Duke University Press, 2017). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara, and FionaBuckland. 1997. “Performance Studies Issues and Methods Course Outline.” New York: Department of Performance Studies, New York University. https://www.nyu.edu/classes/bkg/issues97.htm.
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