Evelyn Annuss works at the intersection of theater, media and literary studies. She has taught as Professor of Theater and Media at the LMU Munich, the Ruhr University of Bochum and the Center for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the TU Berlin. She curated the international exhibition Stagings Made in Namibia. Postcolonial Photography (National Art Gallery of Namibia/Berlin Bethanien, catalogue: b_books 2009), which was shown in a new version at the Palais des Nations in Geneva and at the Basler Afrikabibliographien on the occasion of Namibia’s 25th Independence Day in 2015. Her postdoctoral thesis discusses Nazi mass stagings and media dispositifs (forthcoming with Fink in 2017), her dissertation, Elfriede Jelinek's Theater of Afterlife (Fink 2007, 2nd edition), focuses on acts of giving a face. She is co-editor of a special issue on National Socialism and Gender for Feministische Studien (with G. Jähnert and S. Kalff, 2015) and editor of an issue on “Figurations of the People” for Maske & Kothurn (2016).
My project focuses on transcontinental interweavings of popular performance practices in Africa, Europe and the US against the backdrop of colonial legacies and the current debate on racist modes of theatrical stagings. By taking a paradigmatic look at the diverse and contradicting developments of performances in blackface I want to contribute to an understanding of theater history as global history via questions of aesthetics, mediality and the temporality of performing. Theorizing the relation between face and figure from this perspective helps us to rehistoricize the transformations of specific performance cultures in the context of changing forms of racism and social exclusion. Through different case studies I will investigate the tension between the referential openness and reflexivity of popular theater traditions, their conversion into practices of othering and defacement, and their potential performative resiginifications: I will explore the reinvention of European comic figures in the frontier theater of the USA and the metamorphosis of the black mask in the context of producing a new notion of whiteness. In looking at carnival, reenactments and art projects I will study Southern African receptions of North American minstrelsy and practices of resignifying that destabilize the relation between white face and black mask. These case studies aim at interrogating the scope of reference and historicity of specific concepts of the color line in contemporary controversies on performative racisms, and are committed to a global perspective on masking and marking that reflects on the foundations of our own critique.