The article considers how The Body and the City Project, a performance ethnographic initiative active between 2009 and 2011 with Black women and girls in Newark, provides a model for disrupting the neoliberal co-optation of public space, and the brown and Black female bodies that move through and occupy these spaces. It explains how the project emerged as a response to the ways in which Black women and girls experience the changing nature of safety, access, mobility, ownership, and belonging in postindustrial Newark. Tracing the project’s development demonstrates how the integration of performance methodologies within the context of feminist ethnographic practices provides the space to centralize collective identities and community accountability in ways that directly challenge notions of competition, individualism, and the capitalist consumption of space that define the contours of contemporary neoliberal practices, particularly in urban areas experiencing actual or perceived demographic shifts. The article seeks to centralize performance as a mode of investigation in feminist ethnography; better understand and more concretely identify what nurtures Black women and girls’ community engagement; and inspire new solutions to the issues they identify as examples of injustice, with distinctly neoliberal roots, in their local communities.


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pp. 1-28
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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