The Dance Studies Association (DSA) has awarded the 2020 Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research to Professor of Dance Judith Hamera for her 2017 publication, Unfinished Business: Michael Jackson, Detroit, and the Figural Economy of American Deindustrialization.
The DSA awards the Brockett Prize each year to the best book in dance published at any point in the previous three calendar years. The award, which includes a cash prize of $1,000, strives to recognize the finest scholarship in theatre, dance, and performance history. The DSA adjudicates the award, while the Oscar G. Brockett Center for Theatre History and Criticism at the University of Texas Austin provides the monetary prize.
For this year’s prize, Hamera was named winner along with Clare Croft for the edited volume Queer Dance: Meanings and Makings.
Called “a shining example of Dance Studies in interdisciplinary perspective” by the panel of judges, Unfinished Business explores the figural economies that circulate, prop, or resist the structural economy, particularly deindustrialization in the neoliberal, racialized capitalism of the United States. In announcing the award, the DSA noted that Hamera’s work is “Deeply complex thinking about the interface between work, labor and performance in post-industrial USA. Hamera’s development of concepts such as “gestic space” provides new critical and analytic tools dismantling the projections and anxieties of disruptive and corrosive economic change…It is exciting to see Dance Studies applying its insights not only to theatre, interactive art, and media spectacle, but the broader financial systems in which dance, and other performance mediums, circulate as “the figural economy.”
Unfinished Business also received the 2018 Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Outstanding Book Award and the 2017-2018 Biennial Sally Banes Publication Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research.
Judith Hamera is Professor of Dance in the Lewis Center for the Arts with a faculty appointment in the Program in American Studies, along with affiliations in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Urban Studies. Her scholarship and teaching are interdisciplinary and examine a wide range of sites, united by commitments to ethnography as a research method and to investigating ways specific performance practices reflect and respond to the racialized, gendered political economic challenges of US urban life in periods of structural change. In addition to Unfinished Business, her other books include Parlor Ponds: The Cultural Lives of the American Home Aquarium, 1870-1970 (University of Michigan Press, 2012); Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the Global City (Studies in International Performance: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Cambridge Companion to American Travel Writing (Cambridge University Press, 2009) with Alfred Bendixen; Opening Acts: Performance In/As Communication and Cultural Studies (Sage, 2006); and the Sage Handbook of Performance Studies, co-edited with D. Soyini Madison (2006).
Her essays have appeared in Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Cultural Studies, Modern Drama, PMLA, Qualitative Inquiry, TDR: The Drama Review, Text and Performance Quarterly, Theatre Topics, and Women and Language. She is the recipient of the National Communication Association’s Lilla Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Performance Studies and has served as editor of Text and Performance Quarterly, the performance studies journal of the National Communication Association. Before coming to Princeton in 2014, Dr. Hamera taught at Texas A&M and at California State University, Los Angeles.