In a time of intensifying xenophobia and anti-immigration measures, this book examines the impulse to acquire a deeper understanding of cultural others. Immersions in Cultural Difference takes readers into the heart of immersive simulations, including a simulated terrorist training camp in Utah; mock Afghan villages at military bases in Canada and the UK; a fictional Mexico-US border run in Hidalgo, Mexico; and an immersive tour for settlers at a First Nations reserve in Manitoba, Canada. Natalie Alvarez positions the phenomenon of immersive simulations within intersecting cultural formations: a neoliberal capitalist interest in the so-called “experience economy” that operates alongside histories of colonization and a heightened state of xenophobia produced by War on Terror discourse. The author queries the ethical stakes of these encounters, including her own in relation to the field research she undertakes. As the book moves from site to site, the reader discovers how these immersions function as intercultural rehearsal theaters that serve a diverse set of strategies and pedagogical purposes: they become a “force multiplier” within military strategy, a transgressive form of dark tourism, an activist strategy, and a global, profit-generating practice for a neoliberal capitalist marketplace.
From the colonial period to independence and into the twenty-first century, Latin American culture has been mapped as a subordinate “other” to Europe and the United States. This collection reconsiders geographical space and power and the ways in which theatrical and performance histories have been constructed throughout the Americas. Essays bridge political, racial, gender, class, and national divides that have traditionally restricted and distorted our understanding of Latin American theatre and performance. Contributors—scholars and artists from throughout the Americas, including well-known playwrights, directors, and performers—imagine how to reposition the Latina/o Americas in ways that offer agency to its multiple peoples, cultures, and histories. In addition, they explore the ways artists can create new maps and methods for their creative visions.
Building on hemispheric and transnational models, this book demonstrates the capacity of theatre studies to challenge the up-down/North-South approach that dominates scholarship in the United States and presents a strong case for a repositioning of the Latina/o Americas in theatrical histories and practices.