AB’s research-based practice looks at how transness, disability, and colonialism orient us to place and time and how embodied and material engagements might rearrange these modes of being and belonging. Their practice encompasses solo performance, installation, devising, and community-oriented work. Their teaching situates these practices within critical theory and social justice to collectively explore the potential for embodied knowledge to imagine, rehearse, and enact more critical ways of being in the world. They often create work under the name Sister James. Their work has been presented by the South African National Arts Festival, La MaMa E.T.C., dfbrl8r performance art gallery, Links Hall, and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art among others.
AB’s research interrogates queerness and queer performance in transnational decolonial histories and movements. Most recently, through ongoing archival, oral history, and performance ethnography with LGBTIQ asylum seekers in South Africa, they devised a series of performances that examine strategic practices of “unbelonging” that simultaneously index and intervene upon the transnational asylum system, geopolitical histories of migration and sexuality within sub-Saharan Africa and in Diaspora, and popular media representations that position Queer African refugees as always already out-of-place. AB’s scholarly writing draws on these performances, among others, to argue that through performance we can begin to open up new paradigms of citizenship and belonging beyond Westernized notions of nation-states, the neoliberal individual, and the deserving, dependent migrant. Simultaneously, this work contributes to ongoing debates about the relationship between the displacement and resettling of asylum seekers and contemporary settler colonial, nationalist projects. Their writing has appeared in Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Theatre Survey, Theatre Research International, Performing Arts Resources, and the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art Blog.
AB received their PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University with cognates in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as well as Postcolonial Theory. They studied Contemporary Performance with Lois Weaver at Queen Mary University of London. They are the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson Nancy Weiss Malkiel Scholars Award. Additional awards include the Dwight Conquergood Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Thaddeus Spratlen and Lois Price-Spratlen Inclusion and Diversity Grant, and the Robert S. Breen Memorial Award for Socially Engaged Performance
For more information, please visit: www.sister-james.com.