Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Theatre and Performance


Peter Eckersall

Committee Members

James Wilson

Jaqueline N. Brown

Subject Categories

Africana Studies | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Dance | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Performance Studies | Theatre and Performance Studies | Theatre History


Performance Studies, African American Studies, Theatre, Dance, Ritual, Diaspora, Transnational


In this dissertation, I investigate transnational ritual poetics of Blackness through a historical, cultural, and spatial lens, centering my exploration on the recurrence of circles, the crossroads, and waterways. I show how these formal poetics activate Africana cosmologies, cosmogonies, and mythologies dramaturgically by centering contemporary New York City performance works that bring together dance, theatre, and music. I contextualize NYC performance case studies in relation to performance practices in contemporary Salvador da Bahia. I am particularly interested in how the recurrence of circles, the crossroads, and water as formal poetics catalyze interventions along contested water-ways and landscapes marked by Black cartographic struggle in both public and reconstructed theatrical space in New York City, a port city connected to many other port cities throughout the Black Atlantic. I understand these performances as forming a diasporic and transatlantic constellation of Black spatial imaginings through ritualized intimacy and resistance, transmitting and evolving Black epistemologies and ontologies that are forever wed to the Middle Passage but never bound solely to it.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Monday, June 02, 2025

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