Teaching, Hate Crimes and Performance

May 9, 2019

I teach what I want to learn.

This year I felt compelled explore the Maori haka — tradition, gender, and cultural appropriation — with my students in my “Cultures in Motion” class at CSU San Marcos. Perhaps as a sign of the times, after the mosque shootings in Aotearoa/New Zealand, we discussed how the NZ students rose up to perform the haka in public forums. My class wrote papers about how the dance took on new meanings, depending on the situation and who was performing it (e.g., Muslim-New Zealand boys, a mixed group of students, Maori bikers, a man performing alone at a nighttime vigil at the mosque; or pre-game rugby, weddings, traditional settings.

Then, a few weeks ago, a man walked into a synagogue in San Diego, near our campus and opened fire, killing one woman and injuring many more.  Sadly, the shooter was a student from our campus.  There have been several vigils and peace rallies on campus, including a rededication of the White Rose memorial, in memory of the students who protested Nazism at the University of Munich in 1943.

I’ve learned so much my students and my artistic colleagues about how we need each other, and how we can respond to these critical times in which we live.  I remain open, and carry on.

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