Volume 9, No. 2, Art. 46 – May 2008

Blood and Books: Performing Code Switching

Jeff Friedman, with Catherine Moana Te Rangitakina Ruha Gwynne

Abstract: Code switching is a linguistic term that identifies ways individuals use communication modes and registers to negotiate difference in social relations. This essay suggests that arts-based inquiry, in the form of choreography and performance, provides a suitable and efficacious location within which both verbal and nonverbal channels of code switching can be investigated. Blood and Books, a case study of dance choreography within the context of post-colonial Maori performance in Aotearoa/New Zealand, is described and analyzed for its performance of code switching. The essay is framed by a discussion of how arts-based research within tertiary higher education requires careful negotiation in the form of code switching, as performed by the author's reflexive use of vernacular and formal registers in the essay.

Key words: dance, Maori, New Zealand, orality, oral history, code switching

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Code switching in sociolinguistics

1.2 Code switching in the academy

2. Description of Context

2.1 Dance Studies Programme, University of Auckland

2.2 Code switching between oral/kinesthetic and print text

3. Maori Epistemology

3.1 Conflicting epistemologies in hybrid, postcolonial nation states

3.2 Artsbased research for epistemological inquiry

4. Blood and Books: A Choreographic and Performance Analysis

4.1 Title

4.2 Code switching performance

5. Conclusion







1. Introduction

As a dance artist and a doctoral researcher in dance studies, I integrate creative and academic activities as part of a new wave in the academy. This wave, modeled in New Zealand at the University of Auckland's Dance Studies Programme among others, uses qualitative arts-based methods for research in higher education. As a practicing artist and scholar embedded at Rutgers University in the United States, a liberal arts university, I encounter conflicts and opportunities that arise from different perspectives about what research can and should be in the academy. As a teacher and researcher, I often perform code switching myself, recognizing that different communication modes and rhetorical registers are required to negotiate between polarized perspectives. [1]

Specifically, as a dance teacher and researcher, I often must translate specialized artistic terminologies in defense of a minority worldview that values oral/kinesthetic modes of communication, meaning making, knowledge production and dissemination. In this essay, I offer a case study of a performance work created especially to address this question: how arts-based research, in the form of choreography, is well positioned to perform code switching using both verbal and nonverbal codes. In particular, Maori choreographer Catherine Moana Te Rangitakina Ruha GWYNNE created a performance work titled Blood and Books (2006) that performs this academic "dance." Based on oral history interviews with her family, GWYNNE's choreography takes as its theme conflicts between her indigenous oral/kinesthetic home culture and the print text culture of tertiary higher education. In this essay, I will refer to my colleague as "Cat," her preferred name. [2]

1.1 Code switching in sociolinguistics

Code switching derives from sociolinguistics and some articulation of how it works may be useful. Speakers may choose to alternate among registers for three primary reasons. First, code switching translates between formal and vernacular styles. Second, code switching supports a speaker's interest in identifying with a minority position based on gender, class, ethnicity or other difference (KOSKRITY, 2000, p.340). Third, switching registers also depends on what linguist Michael HALLIDAY calls "mode of discourse ... the primary distinction on this dimension is that into spoken and written language" (1964, p.91). In this essay, all three motives are at play, and are at play for different speakers playing different roles: at the core of this essay is the performance work of emerging artist Cat, a Maori dancer and choreographer from Auckland, New Zealand. Cat contributes her own code switching performance work to this essay. The performance investigates conflicts between formal and vernacular registers, and oral/kinesthetic and print text modes of discourse, particularly in regard to minority ethnic group preferences in a post-colonial setting. Second, my own voice in this essay, as both Cat's teacher in the oral/kinesthetic mode and as a researcher in the written mode, alternates rhetorical registers between artistic facilitator in Cat's creative process and the analytic voice of this essay. [3]

1.2 Code switching in the academy

Attempts to integrate arts-based research into the academy often raise questions about appropriate teaching and research activity, and faculty promotion and tenure requirements. As a dance artist in the academy, I am constantly code switching between two modes for the purposes of pedagogical efficacy, best practices in research, and faculty advancement. For example, teaching in the dance studio and choreographic research requires oral and kinesthetic modes of communication. Teaching dance technique requires kinesthetic demonstration, supported by oral description of pedagogic points; I often add descriptive and analytic print text assignments to these courses. Conversely, teaching a typical dance history course may normally allow a teacher to rely primarily on print text sources and oral communication modes. However, to honor the source material, that is, dance in its original kinesthetic communication mode, I often require students to physically participate in doing the dances we study. [4]

For example, in the Baroque period, dancing reflected a radically different embodiment from contemporary society; bodies at court were seen as complex signs for managing and controlling information. Actions of deportment, such as self-grooming and dress ("the grande toilette"), and of etiquette, such as acknowledgment ("elegant postures of standing") and greeting at court between beings of different status ("the hat and how to wear it" and "bows and courtesies"), were highly developed (HILTON, 1997, pp.15, 269-289).1) As an extension of this system, accomplishment in the realm of court dances was used as a sign for status, especially in deference to the king. Michel FOUCAULT (1977, pp.47-49) points out in Discipline and Punish, his treatise on state-sponsored punitive torture, that crimes against the state are crimes against the body of the king himself, a sign for the French state: "L'état, c'est moi." Rather than acting outside boundaries of control, in baroque dance one is expected to strictly manage one's body from head to toe. One may turn one's head only one-eighth of a circle left or right; one's arms rest just so on either side of the body; one is constrained to raise one's heels only one-quarter of full extension, and so on. When contemporary students perform controlled embodiment by learning Baroque ballroom dance steps, they are ruled by limited movement in both the upper and lower body. These kinesthetic neural pathways reinforce intellectual understanding of the political system in which dancers of that period were corporeally immersed. [5]

As readers unfamiliar with dance terminology, you may be stretching for a complete understanding of the examples described above. Translating kinesthetic experience into print text has many problems. One simple example is that bodies have multiple parts that perform actions simultaneously. In order to fully describe those actions in print, text becomes extensively attenuated by listing and describing each action and its components one by one. Thus, the serial nature of print text requires selectivity: one must choose a first, second, and third event to describe in order. This selectivity is specious for representing movement, because our kinesthetic perception does not operate in this way, but instead apprehends the fully integrated simultaneity of compound movements in every location of the body observed. Furthermore, that simultaneity is not flat, but is dynamically engaged in a temporal succession of movements over time. That dynamism is often poorly reflected in print text, deracinating the basic nature of movement itself. [6]

This problem of simultaneity versus linearity in expression is addressed in several discursive areas. In his text Orality and Literacy, author Walter ONG (1982) suggests a shift in human consciousness as oral expression is transformed into print text. ONG suggests that, in this shift, "writing lifts speech out of context" (cited by OLSON, 1994, p.38). Linguistics expert David OLSON helps us clarify that missing context. In his text, The World on Paper, OLSON (1994, p.60) suggests that "writing represents only some aspects of what the speaker has said." What is missing are the prosodic elements, what Olson identifies as the embodied aspects of oral speech such as changes in vocal intonation, volume, and other qualities that communicate tone and context simultaneously with semantic meaning (p.92). For example, William CLEMENTS' text Oratory in Native North America describes ethnopoetics as "acts of multi-dimensional translation," as an attempt to both contextualize the verbal message and its "indigenous esthetic" (2002, pp.28-29). While OLSON only gestures here toward the body's presence in communication through vocal production, he cites Maurice BLOCH (1975) where this author directly notes that physical stance is crucial for understanding the performative communication of oral expression (OLSON, 2002, p.99). While OLSON's citation of BLOCH acknowledges the presence of body in oral expression, he seems resigned to representing embodied expressions as an unmoving unit, that is, a stance not a dynamic and complex dance of many body parts as discussed above. However, OLSON finally relents and suggests that writing must develop means for representing the prosody of speech through extra additional linguistic units, mainly adverbial expressions of ‘how’ the speaker's verbs were performed. In particular, he notes that, while semantic meaning can be communicated more simply through verb selection, the illocutionary force, that is, the communicative intent of that speech, is represented through the how of movement: "eagerly, hesitantly, sternly, forthrightly, meekly, and the like ..." (p.102). How hard it is to imagine that variety of force (or lack of force) being expressed without some facial and limb gestures, or shifts in posture that simultaneously accompanying the speech. Our bodies' ability to communicate simultaneously through multiple channels is almost seen and felt in this logic chain. Regarding the specific question of simultaneity, OLSON later provides a helpful example of the shift from a simultaneous apprehension of meaning to the more linear textual stream I cited above. Illuminations in medieval bibles were seen as integral to the printed words that accompany these illustrations. The author specifically notes that the print text, at that time, is represented as "nuclear," that is, "a [nonlinear] series of points." This arrangement is modeled after the simultaneity of the visual illuminations, the primary mode of communication. As print literacy surpassed the culture of orality, OLSON shows us that the printed text becomes the superior means by which meaning is communicated in bibles. The illustrations become secondary, and the text is transformed into serial formats using a linear syntactic design (p.112). This discussion provides support for a nascent theoretical framework for the type of translation writers such as myself are required to perform in order to explain the values of embodied action in print text formats. [7]

For the purposes of further translating kinesthetic activities into recognizable units of academic accomplishment, I must switch from an oral/kinesthetic mode to not only the print text mode described above, but also from a recognizable technical dance vocabulary to a more formal academic rhetoric, "academese," if you will. While academese is recognizable to my faculty peers in more typically print text-oriented departments, I am often at a loss how to fully communicate dance expression, description, and analysis to those who regulate my future in higher education. [8]

From the examples above, it is clear I use all three motives for code switching. First, I primarily use vernacular oral/kinesthetic rhetorical style in the studio to communicate as a teacher. Second, I use that rhetorical style to identify with dance culture and enculturate my students to that identity as a dancer, a minority discourse in academia. Third, to teach others and communicate my research outside that minority culture, I code switch from the oral/kinesthetic mode and minority vernacular register to both a print text mode and an academic register such as this essay. [9]

Yet it is true that, in the university setting, the fine and performing arts now challenge the primacy of formal academic registers and print text modes of communication within the academy. We acknowledge cognitive scientist Howard GARDNER's Frames of mind, his well-known theory on multiple intelligences. GARDNER's contribution and subsequent research legitimize both creative arts-based research and new forms of pedagogy in the academy (GARDNER, 1983). For students, the possibilities for learning about and using an arts-based approach to research opens up new opportunities to apply their existing or new artistic skills to relevant academic questions. The following essay provides description and analysis of one such arts-based research application that articulates this integrated approach to learning. Specifically, my essay recounts the process of one student compelled to make code switching the content of her creative research. In her choreography, Cat examines the legitimacy of her minority oral/kinesthetic Maori culture in New Zealand within the context of tertiary education in the university. [10]

For this student, choreography and performance provide an appropriate artistic medium for her inquiry. Logically, embodied performance offers opportunities to stage code switching both within the solo body and between performers. In performance, code switching involves not only a linguistic communication mode but expands to include non-linguistic communication as well; HALLIDAY suggests this where he states that, "utterances often integrate with other non-language activity into a single event" (HALLIDAY, 1964, p.92). These additional rhetorics include dress codes in the form of costuming, body language in the form of choreographed movement, and enhanced staging of spatial relationships between performers and among other props and set pieces. However, in addition to costuming, choreography, and stage blocking, live performance allows more than one performer to represent a single persona and more than one persona in a single body, both of which is the case in Cat's choreography. These staging strategies articulate the potential for a theatrical conceit of both inter- and intrapersonal code switching, referencing GARDNER's emotional quotient in his theory of inter- and intrapersonal intelligences (1983, pp.237-276). My analysis and discussion of Cat's performance, available in video format at http://www.youtube.com/jfdance (note: view two separate video clips of ten minutes each), reveals a sophisticated work of code switching. See Blood and Books Part 1 of 2:

Video 1: Blood and Books, Part 1

Video 2: Blood and Books, Part 2 [11]

2. Description of Context

2.1 Dance Studies Programme, University of Auckland

During the summer of 2006, I was a guest lecturer in the Dance Studies Programme at University of Auckland in New Zealand for nearly three months. Housed within the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, the Dance Programme at Auckland strives for a unique integration of practice and theory. Dance Programme Head Dr. Ralph Buck has created a curriculum that encourages students to code switch between the very worlds I described above. Within each course or "paper" at both the undergraduate and post-graduate level, faculty and students strive for an alluring but difficult task of code switching. In her text Dance and the Lived Body, phenomenologist and dance scholar Sondra FRALEIGH notes the difficulty achieving this goal where

"dualism in dance is perpetuated ... by the language that supports the practice. Habitual use of language that distinguishes body from mind in the teaching and learning of dance reinforces a view that the mind tells the body what to do; then the body responds to the command ... . This is not a thinking body; ... nor is it a feeling mind." (1987, p.11) [12]

In response to this quandary, faculty in Auckland University's dance studio practice technical dance steps that challenge students to consider theoretical concepts in the somatics field. Faculty teaching a dance history course pose academic questions and support theoretical inquiry through intellectual discourse, but also include opportunities to dance history in the kinesthetic mode, as described above. These integrations, among many others, strive for a more integrated understanding of what it means to dance as a thinking and feeling body and think and feel as a dancing body. [13]

During my visiting lectureship at the Dance Studies Programme in Auckland, I taught a single course for advanced undergraduates and master's degree students. My intended outcome was integrating academic research in the class-room with creative inquiry in the studio. In particular, students would develop theoretical understanding for and a practical application of oral history interviewing methods. To accomplish this task, students developed a research proposal on a topic of their choice, and gathered relevant field data by implementing a series of recorded interviews. The students' interviews, as raw data, then became their material in the dance studio, using a variety of artistic skills to both investigate their topic and then represent their research in the staged performance mode. The performances could include spoken text, but could also integrate choreographed movement, song, chant, and visual elements. [14]

2.2 Code switching between oral/kinesthetic and print text

Sitting in my office one day in Auckland, mid-semester, I received an email attachment containing Cat GWYNNE's oral history interview transcript for my review, as required. "I'm no digital wizard, but I can figure this one out without dragging the tech guys from across the hall to help me this time," I thought. The office printer began to blink green and chug. As I began to collect sheets of paper from the printer, I discovered the paper was printing in landscape format, that is, sideways, the long way. At first, I thought, "Silly, the rather longer and narrower New Zealand paper format was printing sideways." But, when I began to collate the sheets of paper, I soon realized that wasn't the case. The entire text transcript was printing horizontally in landscape format. And, beyond that unexpected shift, each separate text line bled directly onto the next page. Rather than scanning down the page as you are reading now, I was reading every line, one at a time, serially across several pages. Stymied, amused, quizzical, I thought, "There's a way to solve this. I'll just wait and try to print again, the right way." So I waited. The entire transcript processed through the printer, all in landscape format, each line scanning horizontally across twenty-two sheets of paper. "Maybe this is going to fun," I thought, "Let's see what happens." [15]

I began to cell-tape the pages together, one-by-one. By the time I'd gotten to page six, I was on the floor of my office spreading the horizontal scroll across the floor. By the time I was on page twelve, I was out the door and into the hall. At that point, I began to feel like I was performing some sort of post-modern, site-specific, task-oriented performance art piece, accumulating more and more pages, changing venues as needed. [16]

I gathered up the scroll I had and the rest of the loose-leaf paper and started into the hallway. "Good thing students aren't rushing through the hallway for the next class yet," I thought. I laid out my scroll and began to complete my performance. Page by page by page, I unscrolled the oral history interview text until twenty-two pages of the transcript were completely attached, spreading over at least twenty feet along the corridor outside my office. Satisfied, I stepped back to admire my work. It didn't look familiar, but it looked interesting. I knelt down, bent over, and began to read. [17]

As I began to read, it became clear that Cat, a young Maori woman, had been careful to set up her interview with her father, Raureti Korako, from an indigenous perspective. She chose video technology so that nonverbal movement was recorded along with semantic text. She also inserted herself into the picture frame of the video recording, ensuring that audiences understood how the interview emerged from a mutual interaction of two subjects. Last, the interview took place on the porch of their marae (tribal meeting house) so that the natural landscape, from the ground plane up into the sky, was included as context for the interview. These choices emerged from what I felt was her intimate, personal understanding of indigenous Maori worldview: the strong emphasis on embodied knowledge as expressed through an ancient oral tradition, the importance of socially constructing knowledge, and the crucial role of the natural environment for how bodies are contextualized as they are enacting their lives. [18]

Was it any mystery that the transcript of this interactive, embodied interview, surrounded by the natural world, resisted translation into a print text? This narrator's expressed his knowledge and worldview even in translation onto the printed page. The interview was performing its own version of code switching, resisting a vertical print text format by maintaining a "landscape" format. In doing so, the interview in this format forces me, as its social receiver, to directly interact with it, to co-create it as a transcript. But there was more. [19]

From the beginning of the print text, I was struck with the phrasing of Cat's father's speech. The main linguistic units of his speech, as transcribed, were often recursive phrases that rolled on and on, then repeated in fragments, before recursively returning to his original thought. "He thinks in circles," I thought. His language emerges as a series of circles. As Maori oral historian Mere WHAANGA describes it, Maori thought and its manifestation in text, song, or movement often has circular form, closely identified with the natural world of cycles:

"A tangi amio is a song that roams or circles about. It will name geographical features such as hills, rocks, rivers or significant places that are often boundary markers or indicators of the extent of the tribal group's mana whenua or authority over land and resource areas. There are instances of this type of waiata being sung at Maori Land court meetings to help prove a claim to a block of land." (2003, p.9) [20]

As Cat's father's narrative progressed, form gradually emerged from those circles. The evolving discussion between father and daughter had its own drive. Korako's language was recursive while also progressing forward toward new developments. Imagine drawing a circle on a piece of paper, while the paper itself was being pulled backward and then forward underneath your circular drawing action. Those circles turned into spirals over time. [21]

But, interspersed within those vernacular poetics, Cat's father also spoke in direct, subject-object, "properly-constructed" sentences that satisfied all the rigorous requirements of linear syntax in English-language composition. Each of these sentences communicated important data, such as describing a person, the natural landscape in front of him, or identifying a bird call. As the narrator in this oral history event, he was code switching, alternating between a Maori worldview and its language style, and the pakeha (European) worldview and its language style. [22]

As I read across the pages, I too was drawn into a performance of code switching. Similar to Mary Beth CANCIENNE's experience of "dancing the data," I found myself "moved from a stand-point outside the data-set to a stand-point inside it" (BAGLEY & CANCIENNE, 2002, p.16). Allowing myself and my understanding to be structured by this unique reading process, I was compelled into an embodied dance. In order to read the transcript line by line, I scrambled across the corridor floor sideways like a crab and then rose to a full standing position to walk back to the beginning of the next line, twenty feet or so down the hallway. [23]

As I read more and more lines, I began to experiment. I was getting tired of my crab walk and sought relief. So I began stepping sideways, keeping my eyes on the page as it scrolled across the floor. Stand up, walk back, step sideways, repeat. Stand up; why not walk back this time on the other side of the scroll; step sideways; repeat. Stand up and walk back; let's try walking backwards this time. Okay, let's go back and try the crab walk again; repeat. This was fun. I hadn't read any text like this before, fully engaging my body in the process of reading. By miming the code switching process embedded in the narrator's speech, from circularity to a more teleological narrative, the interview transcript, I was embodying a performance score that translated the process of reading text into choreographed movement. Cat's interview with her dad emphasizes the importance of embodied experience in Maori epistemology. Through the text, his worldview had engaged my body as its receiver and enactor. I was performing the text: a "corp-eography" that uses my body to create a physical trace form on the floor, on the third floor, Auckland University campus, Aotearoa/New Zealand.2) [24]

The implications for performative social science are resonant. So many of our primary sources, even in qualitative research, are print texts that exclude live, embodied sources. For example, in the case of my own specialty of oral history interview methods, many interviews are transcribed from audiotapes. Audiotape technology is often chosen because of its simple portability due to the vagaries and spontaneities of field research. In contrast to videography, audiotape is less expensive given the necessities of providing adequate lighting and sound equipment for representing the narrator's full oral/kinesthetic delivery in less than ideal conditions. However, without videotape, we lose the full representation of oral/kinesthetic sources (though, even with the best camera and sound equipment, we can only transfer a portion of the "liveness" of events). Post-production, most oral histories are painstakingly transcribed and edited to provide a secondary print text, an interpretation of the live event. While relatively representative of the dialogic interview event, transcripts are, as we have seen in CLEMENTS' text on Native American oratory, less representative of the full orality and complex corporeality of the interview. Within these limits, researchers must accept the deracination of liveness in their primary sources. [25]

Consequently, when print transcripts of primary data such as Cat's interviews sustain enough oral and kinesthetic rhetorical style to empower myself as researcher to enact the print text in movement, I suggest we are compelled by more than embodied pleasure. In this experience, new possibilities open up for qualitative research. I want us to dig into other print texts, taking a stance that demands the reinstatement of embodiment in qualitative research materials. This stance looks for and acknowledges what kinesthetics are actually there but are not adequately seen or felt, mourn for what has been lost if necessary, and commit ourselves to doing better. Doing better also means going back to the beginning of our logic chain: from print transcripts, we are compelled to review the original recordings themselves for corporeality. From the recordings, we retrograde to our original decisions of technology choices: could we have found better ways to integrate corporeality into our records using video instead of audio technology? From technology choices, we retrograde to our selection of live narrators and our research protocols: could we have selected different, more corporeally engaged informants? Could we have formulated our protocols differently to acknowledge the role of our informant's embodied practices in our research? Could our initial research questions have been, a priori, more inclusive of embodied practices in the first place? In his text The Logic of Practice, sociologist Pierre BOURDIEU suggests that, once we discover the logic of any practice we choose to contact, engage and research, we use the same logic of practice to represent those practices (1980, p.92). The implications for performative social science are to review our own research questions and protocols, and examine our documentation and representational practices for their adequate acknowledgment of living, dynamic, corporeal beings revealing themselves and their being in fully embodied ways. [26]

I looked up. Was anyone watching me? For a moment, I was temporarily anxious about being caught dancing in the academy. Indeed, this mysterious innovation seemed ... what? Inappropriate? Frivolous? Even ... wrong? In my defense, I was deep into learning something. Isn't the word "research" originally grounded in physical activity? I was performing the physical acts of searching and researching something new to me, led on by an unknown force emerging from the pages before me, under me, around me. Immersed within this process, I was feeling three-dimensional in a way I hadn't often experienced in the paper-laden office aspect of my academic life, though it was certainly familiar to me in the dance studio. Maybe, by code switching between text and body movement, I was accomplishing what I had always hoped for: integrating the body into the academy, using movement or other forms of somatic techniques as a form of research. [27]

Raureti Korako's virtuoso code switching interview generated my own code switching performance. However, this experience also exemplified my student's own dilemma. Let me explain. In my oral history and performance course, each student would learn interviewing skills, generate a project design according to their research interests, and record at least three separate interviews on their targeted topics. [28]

The harder assignment comes next. Each student in the Dance Studies Programme brings various movement skills to the course. One student researched adolescents who "crump for Christ" at local evangelical Samoan churches. Another student is a skilled Latin ballroom dancer. Still others are trained in classical ballet, modern dance, or a variety of somatic techniques. One student is particularly skilled as a choreographer working with mixed-ability dancers, people with a variety of abled and disabled conditions. Some of her dancers are in wheelchairs like herself, or missing limbs, or have developed other chronic, albeit more hidden disabilities. [29]

To complete their assignment, each student in the course would need to code switch three times. First, they would perform in the oral/kinesthetic data collection mode, using oral interviews to create primary sources. Second, they would translate those sources into print text transcripts, while acknowledging the oral and movement channels of communication that define those sources. Third, each student would return the print text into an oral/kinesthetic performance event. Using the interviews, in various formats such as audio, print text, and nonverbal movement, the students would develop a performance work as a form of embodied inquiry. [30]

Students were confronted with some of the following questions: How can choreography illuminate a research question? How can editing print text transcripts make an argument in performance? How are the nonverbal communication channels in each interview an important set of data? How can the visual elements of costume, lights and props create a set of signals that supports a thesis, suggest a theory, or challenge conventional wisdom? By returning the interviews to their originally embodied performance, we honor bodies that live out their worldviews in practical, embodied terms. To accomplish this task, we would explore a variety of examples and methods in the course, but I would emphasize that their works should be personally creative, emerging from their own interests and skill sets. [31]

3. Maori Epistemology

Before the course began, I wanted to teach from a more informed place and had been searching out books to read ever since I arrived in New Zealand. I wanted to know the people, the country, and its worldviews better. Within a week I had bought several texts and began with an intriguing work named The Great New Zealand Argument (BROWN, 2005). This anthology seemed promising: what were the small arguments? What was the big argument that New Zealand develops for itself and offers to the world? Arranged chronologically, the editor selected a series of texts that progressively pulled the reader through a changing landscape of conflict, revelations, and unresolved concerns. One article titled "Ancestors of the mind: A pakeha whakapapa" in particular struck me, an argument written by author J.E. TRAUE (2001, pp.142-147). [32]

TRAUE, a European New Zealander, a native Kiwi named after the eponymous flightless bird of New Zealand, had encountered Maori culture and citizens throughout his life. Like some Kiwis, he had experienced the rituals of the Maori marae, as I understand, a spiritually important community space. Since resurgence in Maori culture in the late 1980s, many marae had been built throughout New Zealand. Consequently, the teaching of Maori language had enjoyed a renaissance in these locations. Many Kiwis of European ancestry participated in three- or four-day immersion experiences or longer language courses in a marae near their homes. From my own beginning language course at a local Auckland marae, I learned that welcoming the stranger to Maori space is a deeply articulated ritual process.

"As an introduction, Maori will often quote a tauparapara or pëpeha, that names the maunga, awa, waka, iwi and hapü with which they primarily associate. Behind this encapsulation of identity are extensive whakapapa that include cosmological beliefs, as well as ancestral links and the histories of exploration, land claim, occupation, and rights to cultivation, fishing grounds and forest resources." (WHAANGA, 2003, p.8) [33]

In the New Zealand Argument article, "Ancestors of the Mind," TRAUE describes being invited to participate in the powhiri greeting ritual. One important part of this experience was the visiting tribe's (iwi) recitation of their personal genealogy, their whakapapa, going back hundreds of years. The whakapapa taps into a deep oral tradition using substantial memory skills inculcated since childhood. The ritual functions to say, "This is who I am, within my whanau (family unit), my hapu (collection of families), my iwi (tribal unit), articulating the complex intersections and layers of social organization." Each individual's genealogy may go back as far as naming which canoe the iwi's original ancestor traveled on from across Moana-nui, the great ocean. This recitation might take hours to recite properly and is an ample introduction to contrasting worldviews of Aotearoa/New Zealand. [34]

TRAUE asks himself, "What is my equivalent whakapapa?" As a self-identified intellectual, he begins to catalog his intellectual ancestors: Keats, and other literary figures come to mind. He begins to construct an intellectual genealogy and, feeling pretty good about himself, stands up in the marae and recites his pakeha whakapapa as a response. [35]

For me, his choice seemed not quite right. On the surface, his pakeha whakapapa seemed a kind of equivalent to the original Maori ritual, but had missed the deep structure of this ritual process. Somehow, an intellectual genealogy doesn't achieve equivalence to a ritual naming how a person and his or her people are historically grounded in the land. TRAUE's wholesale transfer from indigenous ritual to his "invented tradition" seems inflected by the inequities of colonialism and post-coloniality. Rather than appropriating another culture's ritual forms, I'd suggest referring to one's own embedded genealogical traditions. Fired up by this author's lack of ethical reflection, I developed some big questions about cultural hybridity, and questions of syncretism, appropriation, and assimilation. The rights of indigenous peoples to claim cultural patrimony frame these questions. For the purposes of performative social science practice, looking toward cultural workers in other traditions for models of how to reintegrate art practices into contemporary research has potential pitfalls. Certain questions must foreground those encounters: Who am I in this encounter and what rights do I have, as a cultural outsider, to work with certain modes of research? For myself, how can I best frame my own practice for students, teach them ideas and skills? How can I bring together different epistemologies, ways of knowing? How can I avoid an argument that might be as uninformed as the one made by this pakeha Kiwi author? [36]

Before our first class, I was stuck outside the seminar room without a key. I needed to wait for one of the graduate students to arrive. The students began to collect around me, some shy, others engaging me in conversation. I mentioned the text I was reading, my argument and my concerns. Cat immediately conversing with me, charged with her own issues of feeling split between worlds, not knowing which way to turn, or rather how to integrate two worlds. I was intrigued, but class was beginning. [37]

Later, as we began to discuss the students' project design, each began to reveal their own arguments. One student wanted to understand better how the urban street she grew up on changed demographically over the years. An American student wanted to explore the effects of immigration to New Zealand on non-nationals. The disabled student choreographer wanted to articulate the experience of feeling unmoored by a traumatic accident or sudden life change. Clearly each student's project emerged directly from a personal argument with which they were grappling in the present. The project of performative social science, such as my theater- and dance-based course in New Zealand, provides the infrastructure within which personal inquiry can be linked to larger social, cultural, and historical questions. Our goal was to use arts-based research methods as a link to theoretical frameworks that could extend and enhance that researcher's self-understanding toward greater awareness. [38]

3.1 Conflicting epistemologies in hybrid, postcolonial nation states

For Cat, her argument looked like this: she descends from Waitaha, a matriarchal iwi. She had grown up as mokopuna, the granddaughter of the appointed matriarch of her iwi, Victoria Te Rangitakina Ruha Harris. Cat had been named after her grandmother and was baptized by her on their marae, located in Taheke, in the Northland region of Aotearoa/New Zealand. As mokopuna, Cat had been immersed in a Maori worldview since infancy. I understood that she had grown up within a particularly Maori way of experiencing the world that had, and still shapes her understanding. Her worldview had developed from long periods of study and practice, using pedagogical techniques unique to her own iwi and to Maori culture as whole. Aspects of her knowledge were considered taonga, treasures. These taonga were secret, not available without proper initiation, tapu to others. As described by Maori scholar Piri WALKER,

"I came into a culture, Maori culture, where memory was a formidable institution, protected by a great number of sanctions, a huge, highly sophisticated steam-roller. It still existed that way right up until the time I became interested in oral history, with adepts trained in memory listening and acquisition.

But it is an area bound by sanctions. Like many indigenous cultures, Maori culture has a great number of essentially religious restrictions on knowledge. Contrast this with the Western idea of knowledge: it is essentially something that is open to all souls. This is based on the assumption of the Western Judaic tradition that God, and things that are god-like, are open to all—open, spiritual and available to all. From this, it follows that knowledge is desirable, useful, and beautiful. We are all, of course, attracted to this.

In indigenous cultures, however, and in Maori culture, knowledge is regarded as tapu, as restricted. Even if you are learning at the university, there are hierarchies of knowledge ... .

Knowledge is secret, and many, many secrets of Maori knowledge are guarded ... [m]any knowledgeable Maori are trained not only to learn memory but also to hold back memory and to deny access to taonga (treasures)." (1993, pp.26-27) [39]

In the European university setting, the world of knowledge is, as WALKER says, "[a]n open book." Available to all as a vast and transparent field of available data, knowledge has a different epistemological basis for the Western European culture in which Cat is immersed at the university. For example, in his interview, her father states unequivocally, "I'll stop the karakia (sacred song) there, because it's tapu," noting where Maori ethics built around knowledge and its transmission denotes limited access to information based on who's speaking, who's listening and their variable abilities to comprehend.3) [40]

3.2 Artsbased research for epistemological inquiry

Here is a real New Zealand argument: if the Maori world is epistemologically different, how does Cat, steeped in a Maori way of thinking about knowledge itself, resolve her current university education? If I understand correctly, aspects of Maori worldview include a subtle apprehension of the natural world, a nuanced negotiation of personal and social organization within what had been very much a lived-world full of practical knowledge, intellectual and artistic projects, social and sacred ritual, all framed by complex cosmological forces. The European academy teaches and researches from within a different epistemological perspective, emphasizing an intellectual tradition focused on the acquisition of print texts literally separated from their social modes of production and deemphasizing practice, especially the fine and performing arts. Consequently, Cat herself was epistemologically split between contrasting two lifeworlds, two different ways of knowing the world. However, deeply moored in her role as a Waitaha woman and conscious of her responsibilities to whanau, hapu, and iwi, I understood that she was also supported by her social system to achieve a full European-style education. Cat was encouraged to go as far as she could go in the pakeha university setting. With some care Cat had chosen dance studies, where the body is celebrated as an acceptable as a way of knowing, as one way to bridge that epistemological gap. Especially at the Dance Studies Programme, her interests in both intellectual and creative inquiry were well integrated, as described earlier in this essay. However, she was still strung along a high wire of choices. I suspect that Cat knew well that, rather than replace her Maori ways of knowing, it was crucially important that what she learned at university became integrated with her wealth of experience and understanding within Maori culture. True to her calling, Cat chose this question, this argument about integrating epistemologies as her research question and developed a project design for her data collection in the form of oral history interviews. [41]

She would interview members of her family about her grandmother, the iwi matriarch who chose Cat in infancy to inherit her name. Given Cat's challenge, I wondered what could she learn from this academic and creative project? How might she directly apply and use this knowledge to further her own development as a Maori leader? Cat's project design goal was to return to her North Country iwi, interview her father first, and then a peer, her cousin, about their memories of her grandmother. Using these interviews, the data would provide Cat with the raw materials for a movement-based performance work that explored this epistemological split. [42]

Cat's performance work for the course was titled Blood and Books. Some of the questions it addresses include, Must Cat change? Must she irrevocably choose one epistemology over another? Is there a possibility for integrating different ways of knowing without feeling assimilated to the European colonialist perspective? What are where are the limits on communicating certain Maori understanding? Cat's performance work masterfully engages these questions. Through her choreography and performance, she explores subtle and nuanced possibilities of critically negotiating between different worldviews and epistemologies, assimilating to one while sustaining another, and developing a careful sense of how to use one choice to leverage development in another. All of these arguments and more are part of Cat's embodied inquiry through performance. [43]

4. Blood and Books: A Choreographic and Performance Analysis

4.1 Title

By titling her performance Blood and Books, Cat has named that epistemological split and points out its lack of symmetry. Blood comes first in the title; books follow. This construction gives us information on Cat's own biography: her earliest immersion in indigenous epistemology was fostered within the blood ties of whanau, hapu, and iwi. This foundation supports and frames every future experience. In addition, her Maori worldview will frame the opportunities and liabilities of Cat's future choice making among alternative ways to engage the world. [44]

Second, despite the conjunction "and" that suggests that both objects are linked equally, books are not a commensurate category with blood. They do not occupy the same location in any categorical analysis. As discussed above, blood ties will frame any encounter with books later in life. But, even more so, while blood sustains the body at the level of physiological reality, blood also stands in as a metonym for the support of whanau, hapu, and iwi. The rhetorical relationship between a physiological necessity and the crucial support of family suggests a powerful metonymic extension. Family, society and tribe are absolute necessities for survival within the Maori worldview. Finally, like the social world, blood is a living substance full of dynamic components that are always alive and changing, both growing and then devolving into senescence, replacing itself continuously. Conversely, books are not a living substance, but stand in as a static series of signs for the intellect and imaginations of living beings. As objects meant for interpretation, they are one step removed from direct embodied experience of the world. From Cat's careful attention to how titles signify, we already know much in advance. The following analysis details how Cat uses code switching in a variety of ways to perform her research inquiry. [45]

4.2 Code switching performance

(Reader's note: view two ten-minutes "YouTube" videos titled BloodandBooks, Parts Part 1 of 2 and Blood and Books Part 2 of 2 at http://www.youtube.com/jfdance for video documentation of the performance. Various lettered excerpts from Part 1 are titled Blood and Books Excerpts A through E, and from Blood and Books Part 2 of 2, are titled Blood and Books Excerpts F and G. Reader's notes to view excerpts are embedded where relevant in the text.) [46]

The performance begins in darkness. Our first experience is aural; we hear a low-toned rumbling sound that seems to emerge underneath the stage floor, from the earth below. Light emerges slowly. A blond pakeha woman, dressed primly in European clothing with a dark, buttoned dress shirt and dark skirt, occupies the far upstage left corner. She is standing behind a table, operating an overhead projector. Clicking on the projector provides a shock of light that reveals the muted presence of another body curled up in darkness. The pakeha woman speaks, her voice carefully enunciating words in a dry, pedantic, slightly condescending tone: she begins teaching us about Maori culture from a series of print text transparencies placed on the overhead projector. See Blood and Books, Excerpt A:

Video 3: Blood and Books, Excerpt A: 00:30"-02:10" [47]

In this initial performance moment, we are compelled by multiple modes of rhetorical style: costuming, lighting, spatial location, and speech all present us with signs of a European-style mode of inquiry. The Lecturer is disembodied by her puritanical costume design; her male-style dress shirt denies her female gender, denoting a Cartesian split between body and mind. The bright lighting is harsh, shocking us with its illumination. We are convinced that this light will reveal all, denoting a European-style epistemological transparency to the events that will unfold from texts on transparencies. Cat's choice of transparencies was a nice visual pun regarding the pakeha emphasis on the transparency of knowledge and its ultimate availability. The Lecturer's spatial location objectifies her by distancing her figure as far from the audience as possible and blocking her body by a table supporting the overhead projector. Stage blocking, lighting, and costume all emphasize The Lecturer's disembodiment both within herself and from us. Following that line of analysis, The Lecturer's text is presented as a one-sided intellectual presentation given in a condescending tone, meant to persuade a separate and possibly lower status subaltern rather than engage relationally in mutual dialogue with an equal. [48]

As The Lecturer continues to describe elements of Maori culture, light continues to rise upon the curled up figure approximately center stage. In contrast to The Lecturer, Cat is clearly darker in skin tone, and dressed in only a slip, exposing her body. In contrast to the other performer who is covered up by clothing and blocked by furniture, Cat's body is presented as an open sign, active, ready for interpretation. Rather than blocked by costumes or props, instead she seems to be precariously perched in the middle of the stage space, on top of a stack of objects yet to be determined. In this initial moment, in the dim light, her body is becoming vulnerable to the audience's gaze, available for dialogue. What will she do now? Costuming, light and spatial location all provide a different embodied rhetoric, an embodied mode of communication that gradually, even cautiously offers itself openly in relation to the audience. In this open mode, Cat's body begins to move with small gestures that might dislodge her from her perch; as audience members watching, we are immediately empathetically and kinesthetically engaged. I suggest that Cat has meant audience members to feel some anxiety for her safety and we feel this emotion kinesthetically in our own bodies. Her message is that, rather than covered over and protected, for Cat something is at risk and we are mutually implicated in that risk as co-participants in this ritual event. See BloodandBooksI, Excerpt B and C:

Video 4: Blood and Books, Excerpt B: 02:15"-03:00"

Video 5: Blood and Books, Excerpt C: 09:12"-09:40" [49]

As Cat slowly begins to stand while gesturing atop her perch, she faces us, the audience, and away from The Lecturer. The teacher blithely continues her pedantic speech in the modulated tones of someone who has wisdom to impart, replacing one transparency with another. The Lecturer's nonverbal rhetoric is stiff, unmoving, and unassailable and, coupled with her spatial lack of proximity, she seems to have no relationship to Cat's figure and her physical and emotional challenges. The theatricalized contrasts between the two performers remind us that one function of code switching is to differentiate and set apart minority identity from the prevailing culture. [50]

Having risen completely in full light, Cat is clearly standing on a stack of books. From the size, shape, and gold leaf lettering on their spines, it seems these texts are reference books of some sort. There are six stacks of the same style of books, lined up in progressively lower piles set on a diagonal line projecting downstage right, away from The Lecturer. The viewer may guess that these books are in a series, perhaps two or three sets of encyclopedia. Still standing on the tallest stack, Cat is now gesturing more freely, moving her upper body and limbs in a series of circular motions. Her small- and medium-sized circles in different directions remind me of her father's circular poetics in the original oral history transcript. Cat has also chosen to use her father's own circular embodied gestures as a source for her choreography. The actions create a sense of both danger and challenging that danger: see BloodandBooksI, Excerpt D:

Video 6: Blood and Books, Excerpt D: 01:20"-02:06" [51]

The Lecturer continues, a droning speech punctuated only by an occasional emphasis on a word or two where the teacher wants our attention: "You will notice ...," "This is your marae ...," "Waitaha." Cat moves away from the stationary Lecturer, calmly and precisely stepping from the highest stack to the next. She begins to move up and down on her small book-sized platform, challenging her precarious perch even more. Finally, Cat begins to speak. Her words are similar to The Lecturer's speech but, based on the oral history interviews, is organized differently. See BloodandBooksI, Excerpt E:

Video 7: BloodandBooksI, Excerpt E: 04:14"-04:45"


Nation of Waitaha,


Waitaha, the traveling nation.

Both my grandfather and grandmother descend


Matriarchal society.

Warrior woman.

Women have the right to stand and speak.

Stand and speak.

Stand/speak." (GWYNNE, 2006) [52]

Through Cat's speech, we hear a different rhetorical style of recitation. The same data given in lecture format is now heard from the perspective of an oral encoding process. What is necessary to remember is directly given, whole, as statements of truth. Rather that relying on a rhetoric of explanation or even persuasion, as shown above in The Lecturer's speech ("You will notice ...," "This is your marae ...," etc.), Cat's speech is given in list format, with an a priori understanding of truth telling. There is no need to convince or persuade or explain. Instead, Cat's text takes on an incantatory tone. The repetition of words create an embodied rhythm, spoken with attention to pauses and tempo. In Orality and Literacy, ONG notes that oral repetition creates rhythm that serves as a mnemonic device supporting memory, both for audience reception and the designated deliverer of long-form epic poetry (1982, p.34).4) ONG cites JOUSSE on the physiological benefits of rhythm: "the intimate link between rhythm and pattern, the breathing process, gesture and the bilateral symmetry of the human body ..." (1978, p.34). For Cat, the rhythm of her performance script pulses words and concepts into her body, creating an embodied memory for herself and the audience as well. Later, Cat reduces The Lecturer's entire rhetoric into a rhythmic list format. One by one, each major concept or proper name is listed in a way that seems to accumulate force. [53]

Cat has used this list to achieve what seems to be a personal transformation. Performance theorist Victor TURNER's text The Anthropology of Performance articulates the concept of liminality. From TURNER's interpretation of folklorist Arnold VAN GENNEP's work (1960), the liminal is literally, by linguistic translation, a threshold that is neither inside nor outside, neither of human time nor of cosmological time, but a place in-between. This temporary ambiguity of liminal space and time allow transformative change through performance, especially to "effect transitions from social invisibility to visibility ... from juniority to seniority" (TURNER, 1988, p.101). Through ritual performance, participants' social status is transformed by embodying the ritual, activating their own transformation by learning to sound out loud in oral speech accompanied by embodied movement such as gesture and dance. The ritual has efficacy, in and of itself. It is not celebrating a transformation already extant or about to be effected. The performative ritual itself is efficacious. [54]

It may be that Cat, as designated mokopuna and inheritor of the Waitaha stories, has encountered this ritual process of oral and physical embodiment in the process of memorizing her iwi's history and lore. The process of memory encoding through the body has both changed her and thereby informed the creation of her postmodern performance work. However, we also see Cat's indigenous identity challenged by her experience in the academy. As referenced earlier by my descriptions of code switching in academia, Cat's way of knowing is challenged by the requirements of a print text university culture. At Auckland University, she is split into two, sustaining her inherited oral/kinesthetic epistemology but also performing a pakeha Western mode of knowing as well. This split is represented theatrically through Cat's choreographic choices. Opposing movement and speech vocabularies, costume, lighting and prop choices all contribute to performing Cat's epistemological conflict. By acknowledging her doubleness as both representative of the Waitaha iwi and as an academic student in the pakeha-inflected university system, she and her performance partner are performing the process of code switching that her father has already recorded in the oral history referenced earlier. [55]

Using her father's words in particular, Cat creates a liminal space in the Kenneth Myers Centre laboratory theater. While this event is acknowledged as a publicly attended performance of works that are framed as "art," Cat has added the element of ritual to partly effect her own transformation from junior to senior status in her iwi. As part of the continuum of learning tribal history and memory, that is, by orally and physically embodying her iwi's lore, I suggest that Cat has tested herself in her performance. In the subjunctive mode of liminal ritual performance, this test is transformative for her. Performing Blood and Books is one more step toward inheriting the powerful name of her grandmother. This test is both physical and oral, allowing the audience a glimpse of the Maori oral/kinesthetic tradition. When Cat is literally descending down her precarious staircase of encyclopedias, she is at-risk for testing her own physical and mental skills. Coming into play are what I have begun to perceive as Maori values: balance, precision, and balancing that precision with full expression. [56]

As she descends, Cat is also moving toward a more comprehensive oral recitation of her performance script, listing the main, important Maori concepts one by one as she moves along the lower levels of her staircase of pakeha knowledge ...















Pakeha education system.

Mental Illness.







Unconditional love.



The Lecturer: "Um ... You missed ..."

Cat: "Hmmm ..." (Looks back)

"Grandmother. Grandchild." (GWYNNE, 2006) [57]

For Cat, I suggest this ritual test is purposefully real. In truth, she had some difficulties bringing all the elements of this ambitious performance together in time for the public event. Given her time limitations, it seems that Cat decided to allow her ability to recite the full performance script in a physically risky setting to be tested live, in performance, as a transformative ritual. Scripted into this process is her reliance on the print text projected by the overhead projector and The Lecturer, herself. At the moment when the Lecturer notes that a concept or two is missing from Cat's recitation, Cat turns to the projected text to test her memory. "Grandmother. Grandchild." These are not coincidentally forgotten concepts. For Cat, these statements are the core concepts of the performance work. She has ritually tested herself in public on some of the most important concepts of her cultural inheritance. Cat fulfills the efficacy of this ritual event by moving along the continuum from her juniority toward seniority status, that is, from grandchild to grandmother. As Cat repeats these two ideas and completes her recitation, she descends fully to the floor to complete her transformation. [58]

This transformation locates epistemologically at the furthest point away from Western epistemology. Using the spatial rhetoric of arriving to a stage space that is completely opposite diagonally from The Lecturer, Cat's physical transformation occurs as she puts on her grandmother's "Hat. Gloves. Scarf". See BloodandBooksII, Excerpt F:

Video 8: BloodandBooksII, Excerpt F: 02:18"-04:02" [59]

Using the rhetorical register of dress code, Cat code switches from an informal slip to wearing her grandmother's formal clothing. While this new formal costume matches The Lecturer's formal clothing, an epistemological difference has been tested. Through a ritually transformative physical and mental test, Cat has earned the spiritual authority that comes with her grandmother's formal self-presentation. But, underneath this new layer of formal covered-up clothing, Cat maintains a self that is always embodied. That embodied self is always connected to the presence of her grandmother and the cycles of time and memory within that ancestor that inform Cat's position as a tribal leader. See BloodandBooksII, Excerpt G:

Video 9: BloodandBooksII, Excerpt G: 08:45"-09:25" [60]

In her grandmother's clothes, Cat recites:

"We ... I (...) descend.

I am always descending.

I am always descending through the traveling nation of Waitaha.

I (...) am able to exist through this body.

This body, standing here, strongly, speaking to you (...)

This body, this person, this House of the Child, represents much more than a single being ..." (GWYNNE, 2006) [61]

Cat has used the opportunities of live dance/theater to perform multiple personae who live within her own body. This body may appear singular as an object to the human eye, but Cat's performance suggests a mystery beyond that perception that challenges our Western understanding of individuality and the formation of modern subjectivity. How might certain individuals sustain ongoing connections with their ancestors, in present time and within their own corporeal being? Through various modes of performance rhetoric of space, light, costume, movement, Cat has demonstrated the split between Maori and Western-inflected ways of being speech, using an intersubjective performance of herself and The Lecturer. The Lecturer represents an epistemological mode she must embrace, but The Dancer represents her epistemological home. Using this staging strategy, Cat has demonstrated the interpersonal mode of code-switching performance. Through similar modes of performance rhetoric, she has also revealed the multiple personae within herself. Cat also shows herself capable of intrapersonal code switching. She will continue to negotiate within herself both European and Maori ways of knowing. With her new authority emerging toward senior status in her iwi, Cat will work toward integrating those two contrasting codes toward a better way of knowing herself and her place in Aotearoa/New Zealand. For the purposes of this essay and its value for performative social science, I suggest it is possible that these experiences and others like them may be posed and investigated meaningfully only within the realm of performance. [62]

As Cat completes her transformation, she picks up a wheelbarrow and directs her attention to the stacks of encyclopedias. These texts now represent not only the print textual lore of pakeha academia, but also props that represent two different epistemologies of knowledge: the Western way that also supports an embodied way of knowing. It takes time and hard, embodied work to dump each stack of books carefully into the wheelbarrow. We are no longer listening to text or reading text, but empathizing with the difficulty of handling that text in its heavy and unwieldy physical form. Pushing the wheelbarrow carefully toward the exit, the lights begin to dim. Cat's body begins to slowly curve over, becoming her grandmother. She is not only carrying books, but also becoming her own blood relative. Blood and books, together. The knowledge of transformative ritual is carried, literally and figuratively, in her body. [63]

5. Conclusion

The performance of code switching is a complex negotiation. In post-colonial locations, those negotiations can be explicitly political and often personally painful. These negotiations are especially vexed where both language and the conceptual and epistemological frameworks underpinning one's use of language come into conflict between colonials and former subalterns. We have seen examples of how some individuals like TRAUE appropriate new codes, ignoring the difficult work of full and equal negotiation among different ways of knowing the world. I have shown how Cat GWYNNE has instead invested in code switching among multiple language and embodied modes and registers of communication in order to properly negotiate difference. [64]

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, both pakeha and Maori find themselves in difficult positions where they are constantly testing and are tested by their choice of communication styles. For example, I witnessed brave pakeha leaders bring themselves fully and honestly to that negotiation. At the Maori queen's recent tangi or funeral in 2006, I witnessed a small group of pakeha government officials perform a funeral oratory, using the indigenous model of an extended oral speech followed by a supportive song and sometimes dance. Following their speech, the small group sang a thin rendition of "You Are My Sunshine." At first, their performance seemed wan compared to previous Maori orators and their large groups of supportive haka dancers and waiata singers. However, these officials offered a song from their own culture that reflected their experience of the Queen during her conscientious yet benevolent reign. They recognized their own position within that ritual and participated from that position. In this case, a more full consideration of ethics in regards to difference was enacted in their performance. [65]

Waitaha mokopuna Catherine Moana Te Rangitakina Ruha GWYNNE created choreography that performs that challenge on stage. Within a university system that honors one mode of meaning making over another, GWYNNE used her resources within a dance program curriculum for investigating the difficulties and rewards of negotiating code switching. Performance provides an important location for this inquiry. Performing code switching within a world of movement, text, oral speech, costume, lighting, sound, and space enacts a protean theatrical world of embodied rhetorical gestures where negotiations can be explored meaningfully and in depth. [66]

Most important, I have demonstrated that performance as a mode of research inquiry allows multiple epistemologies to emerge within this complex interplay. For Cat, performance is crucial because its variety of rhetorics allows for strategic inter- and intrapersonal representation, crucial for portraying multiple worldviews. Cat performed her experience of being split epistemologically; to accomplish this, she used sound, light, space, movement, speech, and textual codes to draw direct contrasts between the oral/kinesthetic and print text worlds she simultaneously occupies. To achieve a measure of resolution between these worlds, Cat used movement and props to invoke descent. In Blood and Books, descent is performed as both a risky physically embodied act as herself, and also as mokopuna, for her people, Waitaha, descending from a long line of matriarchs. Cat descends both in front of us and within herself toward integrating an ancestor from her direct past, critical for achieving a fully-integrated ritual transformation. [67]

As BAGLEY and CANCIENNE points out in Dancing the data, arts-based practices in research inquiry necessarily

"disrupt ... the monovocal and monological nature of the voice in the print text paper ... . [C]horeographed performance ... encapture[s] the multivocal and dialogical ... cultivate[s] multiple meanings, interpretations, and perspectives that might engage the audience in a recognition of textual diversity and complexity" (BAGLEY & CANCIENNE, 2002, p.16). [68]

In Cat's case, we have seen how the oral history transcript's print text defied BAGLEY and CANCIENNE's description; the transcript was instead replete with diversity and complexity, as shown by Raureti Korako's performance of code switching between oral and print rhetorical modes. In response, I was compelled to "dance the data." Translating her father's refusal of the mono-logic into an embodied ritual, GWYNNE purposely generates multivocal inter- and intrapersonal dialogues in Blood and Books. Her performance becomes an act of resistance, reintegration, and transformation. [69]

BAGLEY and CANCIENNCE calls for the "evocative" potential in performance, where it opens up new ways of perceiving experience (p.17). In particular, that performance sensibility serves cross-cultural and post-colonial settings such as Aotearoa/New Zealand where negotiating difference through code switching is a critical act of personal survival and building nation. Creative artists like Cat GWYNNE may be key for generating the evocative rhetorics that can transform both heart and minds. Works such as Blood and Books extend the application of performative social science to instances where arts-based research is challenged by new ways of thinking, feeling, and being. [70]


For permission to use her work and for her careful and caring review of drafts of this article, Catherine Moana Te Rangitakina Ruha GWYNNE; for his personal, administrative, and technical support for performance presentation, Dr. Ralph BUCK, Dance Studies Programme Head, National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, University of Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand.


1) See sociologist Norbert ELIAS' texts (1969, 1982) for the growing demands of etiquette and deportment away from the Rabelaisian "grotesque body" in the medieval period. ELIAS is particularly instructive as to the social, economic and political factors that impinge on everyday pre-Enlightenment embodiment. <back>

2) Aotearoa (translated from Maori as "land of the long white cloud") is the place name for both the North and South Islands of contemporary New Zealand together (each island is assigned its own Maori place name separately). "New Zealand" is a colonial marker drawn from Abel Tasman's sailing expedition of 1642. The place name is derived from the Dutch "Nieuw Zee-land," after the coastal Netherlands Zeeland district. In contemporary times, to say "Aotearoa" in New Zealand is to align oneself with a somewhat skeptical if not downright oppositional position to colonialist hegemony as it has been and continues to be expressed and experienced in New Zealand. To say both "Aotearoa/New Zealand" out loud is a form of code switching, a "shout out" to both the indigenous Maori peoples, to colonials who came later, and acknowledges the contentious contemporary social/economic/cultural negotiation in which this country and its peoples finds themselves now. <back>

3) Legal and ethical considerations for recording oral history interviews were covered in course lectures according to the standards of the Oral History Association in the United States. Release forms for all interviews were drawn up based on a model used by Legacy, an oral history project I created in 1988 in San Francisco. That model is borrowed and was vetted originally by the Regional Oral History Office at Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. In the case of Raureti Korako's tapes and all others recorded by students, the tapes and transcripts were understood as used only for the purposes of this Auckland University course or paper, and are not available for general research use. Release forms and original recordings and transcripts for all projects are kept in a secure location at the Dance Programme for five years. Cat maintains copies of the tapes and transcripts for her own use. As the reader can see from cited text about tapu, Cat's narrators were well aware of their own ethical limits in divulging tribal history. <back>

4) ONG is playful; his print text statement on rhythm is a pedagogic song inculcating his content within prose that performs the theory: "Your thoughts must come into being in heavily rhythmic, balanced pattern, in repetition or antithesis, in alliteration and assonance, in epithetic or other formulary expression, in standard thematic settings, in proverbs ..." (1982, p.34). <back>


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Van Gennep, Arnold (1960). Rites of passage. London: Routledge and Kegan.

Walker, Piri (1993). Locating memory. Oral History in New Zealand, 5, 22-27.

Whaanga, Mere (2003). Telling our stories: hapu identity in waiata, pakiwaitara, and visual arts. Oral History in New Zealand, 15, 8-11.


Video_1: http://www.youtube.com/v/0-RxcYOS1L0 (425 x 350)

Video_2: http://www.youtube.com/v/eVwDrybesSU (425 x 350)

Video_3: http://www.youtube.com/v/GkGKi9IvCV8 (425 x 350)

Video_4: http://www.youtube.com/v/Ap7mAiaLHWo (425 x 350)

Video_5: http://www.youtube.com/v/ZbYqwLgpTpo (425 x 350)

Video_6: http://www.youtube.com/v/TVGLeZIzmns (425 x 350)

Video_7: http://www.youtube.com/v/oZXtmM4tm1Q (425 x 350)

Video_8: http://www.youtube.com/v/sG9ee-c4-LI (425 x 350)

Video_9: http://www.youtube.com/v/tJ2y3M-Xd1I (425 x 350)


Jeff FRIEDMAN is a dance artist and scholar with research interests in oral history theory, method and practice. Oral history, in particular, brackets Friedman's inquiry into tracing dancing in history through documentary modes, and the vexed role of ephemeral oral/kinesthetic traditions in the production of contemporary history. His research approaches this inquiry from the perspective of cognitive linguistics, Laban movement studies, art history, and nonverbal communication studies.


Jeff Friedman Ph.D.

Department of Dance
Rutgers University
85 George Street, Douglass Campus, New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States 08901

Tel.: +1 732 932 8497, extension 13
Fax: +1 732 932 5414

E-mail: jfdance@rci.rutgers.edu


Friedman, Jeff (2008). Blood and Books: Performing Code Switching [70 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2), Art. 46, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802462.

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)

ISSN 1438-5627

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