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Cambridge University Press
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May 2010
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This book was first published in 2010. Madison presents the neglected yet compelling and necessary story of local activists in South Saharan Africa who employ modes of performance as tactics of resistance and intervention in their day-to-day struggles for human rights. The dynamic relationship between performance and activism are illustrated in three case studies: Act One presents a battle between tradition and modernity as the bodies of African women are caught in the cross-fire. Act Two focuses on 'water democracy' as activists fight for safe, accessible public water as a human right. Act Three examines the efficacy of street performance and theatre for development in the oral histories of Ghanaian gender activists. Unique to this book is the continuing juxtaposition between the everyday performances of local activism and their staged enactments before theatre audiences in Ghana and the USA. Madison beautifully demonstrates how these disparate sites of performance cohere in the service of rights, justice, and activism.


'Soyini Madison engages in a rich discussion of the complexities of gender and human rights in Ghana … powerful exploration of the role of performance in shaping a certain type of social dialog that is bottom-up, an instrument for the community to understand and come to terms with injustices within … An important contribution to the scholarship about gender wrongs and rights, Acts of Activism crosses disciplines and links performance art to sociology and cultural anthropology, expands the scope of discussion about how to right wrongs, and the imperative of debate within communities rather than imposition of Western values and norms.'

Source: Human Rights Review

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