Contemporary PerforMemory: Dancing through Spacetime, Historical Trauma, and Diaspora in the 21st Century

Book Cover Contemporary PerforMemory

Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2020 | Critical Dance Studies series
In partnership with Columbia University Press (New York)

Scholar and artist Dr. Layla Zami explores how contemporary dance-makers engage with historical traumas to reimagine how the past is remembered and how the future is anticipated. She introduces the new idea of perforMemory within a lively blend of interdisciplinary theory, performance analysis, and personal storytelling. Contemporary PerforMemory also features insightful interviews with seven international artists: Oxana Chi, Zufit Simon, André M. Zachery, Chantal Loïal, Wan-Chao Chang, Farah Saleh, and Christiane Emmanuel.

 transcript Publishing (e-book and print)
 Columbia University Press (print distribution for the Americas)
 The Drama Review (Book Review)



InterdepenDenken: Wie Positionierung und Intersektionalität forschend gestalten?

Cover InterdepenDenken!

w_orten&meer, wissen_bewegen, Berlin 2015

An innovative anthology on intersectionality, co-edited by the working group AK ForschungsHandeln, an international gathering of emerging and established scholars. As one of the co-editors, Zami coined the book title InterdepenDenken to offer a new research paradigm in the German-speaking context. The anthology presents European and non-Western perspectives on intersectional research methodologies, and explores the intersection of gender, race, class, and ableism.

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Performing Memory, UnGeHörig, Vol. 2

Cover UnGeHörig Vol. 2

Humboldt-Universität, Berlin 2016 (English/German)

Bilingual anthology of academic essays, visual art and poetry on the topic of traumatic memory, co-edited with Marie Springborn. The contributions were produced by the students from my class Performing Memory.

 view pdf



Other co-editing experiences include a research report for UNESCO (Paris, 2005) on the Education for All program, published during my time as a student at Sciences Po Paris.



Book Chapters

Epistemologien der Routine

Cover Epistemologien der Routine

In Routinen im Tanz: Künstlerische Praktiken zwischen Stabilisierung und Destabilisierung, edited by Katja Schneider, transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, 2023, pp. 197–208.

Oxana Chi & Layla Zami discuss epistemologies of routine in relation to movement, research, and memory. Their conversation-intervention was published in the annual anthology of the German Dance Society (Gesellschaft für Tanzforschung).

 more info



Die Kunst, zwischen den Zeiten zu tanzen

Cover OutSisters InSisters Lesben

A collaborative essay written with Oxana Chi, entitled: “Die Kunst, zwischen den Zeiten zu tanzen - ein Erinnerungsessay über jüdische Frauen im Widerstand und lesbische Sichtbarkeit.” In OutSisters InSisters Lesben, edited by Barbara Guth & Susanne Bischoff, Berlin, 2022, pp. 92-98.

 table of contents / Inhaltsverzeichnis



Memory Matrixes: see-ing and sea-ing in Kerry Downey's work

Cover Memory Matrixes

In We collect together in a net, edited by Kerry Downey, Wendy's Subway, New York, 2019.

Like a net, skin’s porousness acts as a threshold between the personal and the social, the psychological and the embodied. The book We collect together in a net, assembles a series of fourteen full color reproductions of new monotypes by artist Kerry Downey (Professor at RISD and former MoMA educator), alongside commissioned texts by writers including Layla Zami.

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Fremdgemacht & Reorientiert: jüdisch-muslimische Verflechtungen

Cover Fremdgemacht & Reorientiert

Yılmaz-Günay Verlag, Berlin 2018

This publication dedicated to Jewish-Muslim alliances was edited by Ozan Zakariya Keskinkılıç and Ármin Langer, also known as the founders of the Salaam-Shalom Initiative in Berlin, Germany. The book gathers contributions from and discussions among senior and junior scholars, artists and activists. Dr. Layla Zami was invited to contribute to a cross-cultural discussion about community, gender, art and memory in Jewish and Muslim circles.

Contributors include: Prof. Micha Brumlik (Selma Stern Center), Dr. Azadeh Sharifi (Center for Global Theatre History), Prof. Dr. Stefanie Schüler Springorum (Director, Berlin Centre for Anti-Semitism Research), Pary El-Qalqili, Dr. Max Czollek (Curator, Radical Jewish Arts Days), Prof. Dr. Iman Attia (Alice-Salomon University), Dr. Yasemin Shooman (Director, Berlin Jewish Museum Academy).

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Tanzkunst als lebendige Erinnerung: Oxana Chis performative Erinnerung an Tatjana Barbakoff

Cover Neues Judentum – altes Erinnern?

In Neues Judentum – altes Erinnern? Zeiträume des Gedenkens, edited by Dimitrij Belkin, Lara Hensch, and Eva Lezzi, Hentrich&Hentrich / ELES, 2017, pp. 267–288.

An anthology with Jewish perspectives on the past, present and future of memory. My chapter discusses Oxana Chi's piece Through Gardens. It draws from my doctoral research on memory, dance performance and gender. I presented an earlier version of this article as an invited speaker for the interdisciplinary symposium series organized by ELES at Forum Humanum.

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Dancing Women’s Lives: Feminist Auto/Biographical Storytelling in Transcultural Dance Art

Cover Writing Women's Lives

In Writing Women's Lives: Auto/Biography, Life Narratives, Myths and Historiography, International Symposium Paper Book, edited by Birsen Talay-KeŞoĞlu and Leyla ŞimŞek‐Rathke, Women’s Library and Information Center Foundation, Vol. 44, 2016, pp. 818-827.

The symposium was held at Yeditepe University in Istanbul, April 19th-20th, 2014.

 view pdf
 symposium program



geh*dicht*. ein liebeslebendiges gedicht

Cover Sisters and Souls

In Sisters and Souls. Inspirationen von May Ayim, edited by Natasha A. Kelly, Orlanda Frauenverlag, 2015, pp. 241-249. [creative writing]

Anthology dedicated to May Ayim, "the Afro-German Audre Lorde".

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Oxana Chis Tänzerische Wissensschaffung: Biographische Erinnerung an Tatjana Barbakoff aus feministischer Perspektive

Cover Sichtbar Unsichtbar

In Sichtbar Unsichtbar. Geschlechterwissen in (Auto-)Biographischen Texten, edited by Maria Heidegger, Nina Kogler, Ursula A. Schneider, and Annette Steinsiek, transcript, 2015, pp. 259–274.

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Ein all_zu_täglicher Tag*

In InterdepenDenken: Wie Positionierung und Intersektionalität forschend gestalten, edited by AK Forschungshandeln, w_orten&meer, 2015, pp. 72–83.

An essay blending creative and academic writing. Renewing ideas of migration, diaspora, trauma and memory, the text takes the reader on tragicomic journey in the 20th and 21st centuries.



Oxana Chi von Zopf bis Fluss: Transkulturelle Tanzkunst und alternative Geschichtsschreibung

Cover The Living Archive

In The Living Archive - Kulturelle Produktionen und Räume, edited by Aicha Diallo, 52-61. Foundation Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, 2013. pp. 52-61. [Commissioned article]

 view pdf



Mémoire dansée, Jardins Rêvés

Cover Salon Qi

In Salon Qi 2011, Catalogue to the Exhibition Tanzende Erinnerungen / Mémoire dansée, Edited by Oxana Chi. li_chiverein, 2011, pp. 7-11.

 view pdf



Schwarz, Rot, Gold...Alles Nur Vergangenheit?

In Salon Qi 2011, Catalogue to the Exhibition Tanzende Erinnerungen / Mémoire dansée, Edited by Oxana Chi. li_chiverein, 2011, pp. 22-26

 view pdf




In Stratégies de survie des populations africaines dans une économie mondialisée: l’expérience camerounaise, edited by Kum’a Ndumbe III, Editions AfricAvenir / Exchange & Dialogue, 2007, pp. 9-52.




Eine un/mögliche Theaterwissenschaft

cover Forum Modernes Theater 2023

In Forum Modernes Theater, Vol. 34, no. 2 (2023), pp. 239-252.
An article about the potential of dance and sound to transform performance studies, as part of a special issue on decentering theatre studies (Beiträge zur Dezentrierung der Theater/Wissenschaft), guest edited by Karina Rocktäschel, Theresa Schütz, and Doris Kolesch.

More info via your library or  here



Queer Positions

Article siegessäule

In Siegessäule, Zündstoffe, Feb. 2024, p. 22

 read article (in german)



Building Belonging & Breaking (Down Beginnings)

laba logo

In: LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, New York, September 7, 2023

 read article



Dancing After Life: Flexible Spacetimes of Black Female ResistDance

Cover Dance Research Journal 2021

In Dance Research Journal, Vol. 53, no. 2 (2021), pp 67-87.

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Dissidence, Dissidance

Cover Women and Performance 2021

In Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, 30:3, pp. 345-353.
Issue edited by Kim Bobier & Marisa Williamson Views from the Larger Somewhere: Race, Vision, and Surveillance

 more info
 read online



Of Circles and Cycles

In Movement Research Performance Journal, #54 (Summer 2020). Special Issue on "Spatial Practice", guest editor: Alan Ruiz.

 more info
 read full article



Danser le passé au présent

In Recherches en danse, 7 (2019). This issue of the peer-reviewed journal centers the intersection of memory and dance. Editors: Claudia Palazzolo et Guillaume Sintès.

 read abstract (in english)
 full article (in french)



Dancing the Past In the Present Tense: Queer Afropean Presence in Oxana Chi's Dancescapes

Cover Lambda Nordica

In a special issue of of the Scandinavian peer-reviewed journal Lambda Nordica, Postcolonial Queer Europe, vol. 2-3, 2017, pp. 126-150.

 read article
 full issue




In UnGeHörig, Berlin: Humboldt-University, no. 2, August 2016.



Oxana Chi danse d'île en île

In Madinin'Art, December 2014 [online].



Luftig-erdige Show

In Neues Deutschland, 17.08.2013



Drei Frauen, eine Spurensuche: Die Tänzerin Tatjana Barbakoff

Logo Aviva

In AVIVA, October 2012 [online].

 more info



Mit Oxana Chi Durch Gärten

In Nah & Fern, Kulturmagazin für Migration, 45, 2010.

An essayistic exploration, through writing and photography, of the parallels between a contemporary dancer-choreographer, Oxana Chi, and a historical one, Tatjana Barbakoff.

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Cover Brennpunkt

In Brennpunkt - Magazin für Fotografie, 4/2011.

Artist statement and portfolio about my work as a photographer

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Words of Mouth

Cover Verbindungen sprechen

In Tapesh: Verbindungen sprechen, Berlin: City Council / LesMigraS, 2011.

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Rendre sur scène son corps à Sawtche

In Madinin'Art, February 2011 [online].

Performance Review about Chantal Loïal's dance solo On t'appelle Vénus in memory of Sawtche/Sarah Bartmann called the Black Venus.

 view pdf



200 Years Later... Commemorating the 200 Years Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Cover 200 Years Later...

In a exhibition catalogue edited by AfricAvenir International, 2008.

Awarded UNESCO’s Toussaint Louverture Medal.
I contributed my research, writing and translation skills for the selected biographies of "Protagonists of Resistance against the European Slave Trade". The exhibition also portrayed creative methods of African resistance in the Americas and the Caribbean such as Capoeira, Blues, Candomblé, Samba and Calypso.




Sonic Interventions

Cover Podcast SonicInterventions

A podcast about the poetics of sound and its power to disrupt norms and transform society, with a special ear for postcolonial and/or queer sonic possibilities. The seasons curated and hosted by Layla Zami include two Black History Month specials in 2023 and 2024. In season 1 (episodes 1-5), she is in conversation with musicians, sound artists, and theatre-makers based in New York and Chicago. In season 3 (episodes 10-13), recorded mostly in South Africa, she exchanges with artists and scholars based in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. Other seasons guest curated by her colleagues center Asian (diasporic) artists and sounds (episodes 6-9) as well as the interrelations between Polish society, queer activism, and art/sound (episodes 14-17).
The podcast was initiated by Layla Zami for the Collaborative Research Center Intervening Arts and is produced in cooperation with the Performance Studies Department at Freie Universität Berlin and Eufoniker Audioproduktion.

 More info on the podcast blog

Listen to Sonic Interventions on
 Apple Podcasts



Educational Materials


Logo Each One Teach One

Dr. Zami was commissioned to write an article on antisemitism for a civic education anthology dedicated to the issue of Anti-Black Racism in an intersectional perspective.
EOTO (Each One Teach One) e.V., Antischwarzer Rassismus: Grundlagen, Strukturen, Intersektionen, 2022

 more info



Défi Francophone

Cover Défi Francophone

As an educational pedagogy & technology consultant, Dr. Zami conceived interactive activities for Défi Francophone: an innovative French teaching method centering culture and creative communication. Défi is a textbook originally published in France, and authored by Fatiha Chahi, Pascal Biras, Monique Denyer, Audrey Gloanec, and Stéphanie Witta. This new edition aims to fit the needs of students based in North America.

 more info
 promotional video