Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity

2018

"Dorinne Kondo's work recalls us to the indispensable power of creative art and action during times when prospects for persistence are closing for so many. Brave, passionate, and always incisive, Kondo's work paves the way for those who seek to know the link between art and politics for our time." — Judith Butler

"Dorinne Kondo's penetrating and insightful book should be required reading for any theater artist who is serious about confronting racism. She brilliantly reminds us of the power of the theater, and of the real responsibility that comes with that power." — Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater

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In this bold, innovative work, Dorinne Kondo theorizes the racialized structures of inequality that pervade theater and the arts. Grounded in twenty years of fieldwork as dramaturg and playwright, Kondo mobilizes critical race studies, affect theory, psychoanalysis, and dramatic writing to trenchantly analyze theater's work of creativity as theory: acting, writing, dramaturgy. Race-making occurs backstage in the creative process and through economic forces, institutional hierarchies, hiring practices, ideologies of artistic transcendence, and aesthetic form. For audiences, the arts produce racial affect--structurally over-determined ways affect can enhance or diminish life. Upending genre through scholarly interpretation, vivid vignettes, and Kondo's original play, Worldmaking journeys from an initial romance with theater that is shattered by encounters with racism, toward what Kondo calls reparative creativity in the work of minoritarian artists Anna Deavere Smith, David Henry Hwang, and the author herself. Worldmaking performs the potential for the arts to remake worlds, from theater worlds to psychic worlds to worldmaking visions for social transformation.

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About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater

1997

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From the runways of Paris to the casting controversies over Miss Saigon, from a local demonstration at the Claremont Colleges in California to the gender-blending of M. Butterfly, About Face examines representations of Asia and their reverberations in both Asia and Asian American lives. Japanese high fashion and Asian American theater become points of entry into the politics of pleasure, the performance of racial identities, and the possibility of political intervention in commodity capitalism. Based on Kondo's fieldwork, this interdisciplinary work brings together essays, interviews with designer Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and playwright David Henry Hwang, and "personal" vignettes in its exploration of counter-Orientalisms.


Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace

1990

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"The ethnography of Japan is currently being reshaped by a new generation of Japanologists, and the present work certainly deserves a place in this body of literature. . . . The combination of utility with beauty makes Kondo’s book required reading, for those with an interest not only in Japan but also in reflexive anthropology, women’s studies, field methods, the anthropology of work, social psychology, Asian Americans, and even modern literature."—Paul H. Noguchi, American Anthropologist

"Kondo’s work is significant because she goes beyond disharmony, insisting on complexity. Kondo shows that inequalities are not simply oppressive-they are meaningful ways to establish identities."—Nancy Rosenberger, Journal of Asian Studies