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Performance and Culture - Post Modernism - Essay Example

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There is a widely held consensus that postmodernism is a reaction to modernism and hence concerns itself only with “otherness”, “difference” and “identity”. High modernism is rarely occupied with the experiences of the cultural minorities and nor does it involve…
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Performance and Culture - Post Modernism
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Download file to see previous pages Though postmodernism still has the potential to be an effective liberating space for the subjugated, it is seldom used for this end (McGuigan 98).
One key aspect of the visual aesthetic of the black community is that of the body. The notions surrounding black hair and its style provide us a contextual framework for analyzing its relation to modernity and postmodernity. One of the mechanisms of modernism is to find an absolute "essence" of its subject, denying all the other experiences that make up a community in the margin (Hutcheon). Within and outside their community, essentialist arguments have been used to fit the entire community in the margin into easy categories. For instance, the natural texture of African-American hair has been used as one of the key visual elements in a system of ethnic signifiers. The first essentialist construction of black hair meant that it was all of the things white hair was not. Instead of being judged for its own inherent qualities, black hair was portrayed to be not good, not beautiful, unmanageable and even uninteresting. As an ethnic signifier, its metonymic qualities were obvious - it also became the construction of what whiteness was not. This first essentialist argument was not created by the black community, but it was internalized. It is still in use today by individuals inside and outside of the margin that comprises the black community (Hutcheon).
This deficiency was addressed by the black power movement during the nineteen sixties, although the method employed was of the modernist tradition. It tried to redefine what “ideal” meant for those inside and outside the community. The myth of the superiority attached to straightened and processed hair was dismantled and a new signifiers for good black hair was projected – namely the Afros and Caribbean dreadlocks. This new essentialist construction of ideal black hair countered the former one, and thus is strongly tied to it. What resulted was a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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