Through film screenings, music and dance performances, discussions, community outreach, and organizational partnerships, the Periphery Center strives to expose the public to stories and histories from the periphery of our worlds — whether tucked in the suburbs, lost in the countryside, buried deep in major cities, or seen and heard only in far away lands.
The Periphery Center’s name comes from the “center–periphery model”: a theoretical framework that attempts to explain economic and political relationships between advanced or metropolitan centers and less developed and more dependent peripheries, either within a particular country or metropolis, or on a global scale.
In the context of culture, these relationships often result in a power dynamic in which the center determines what cultural trends – music, art, dance, film – are relevant, respectable, and worthy of attention. The center chooses and curates what they see as legitimate and valuable, which is then promoted through the media and ultimately consumed by the periphery, which may very well have created the original cultural form being promoted.
It is within this power dynamic that the Periphery Center situates itself and attempts to counterbalance these power structures by bringing that which is peripheral to the center, to give light and context (and thus, power) to marginalized cultural traditions.
What we do
The Periphery Center creates opportunities for cultural exchange and dialogue. We host events that provoke and push people – in the most supported way possible – to question taken-for-granted assumptions about the way the world “is” and about their position and role. We hope people leave feeling slightly frustrated and confused, but mostly inspired to continue asking questions of themselves and their vision of the world (which has hopefully been shaken up a bit, if not totally turned on its head).
Stay curious. Stay compassionate.
Based in Oakland, CA.
Music is arguably one of the most powerful ways we express our deepest emotions, personal histories and political beliefs. Historically, certain musical traditions have dominated mainstream media outlets, thus limiting the public expression of sounds and histories created within less-dominant groups (see cultural imperialism).
The Periphery Center aims to bring less familiar sounds and musical styles to the forefront in order to counter historical imbalances, and allow people to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the way music is deeply intertwined with particular histories and groups of people.
The moving body is a magical and powerful form. Similar to the passing of oral histories, dance is a rich form of expression that often serves as a means by which cultural tradition and memory are embodied, presented, and preserved. Traditional forms of dance also often protect human memory through public enactment and serve as an important way for cultural groups to create and maintain coherent and autonomous identities.
By studying the moving body — whether it be practicing learned and created gestures, participating in dynamic movement rituals, or performing detailed choreographies — we gain insight into how social identities are negotiated and codified in particular cultural and historical contexts.
Culture is an ambiguous term, but here we focus on stories and footage of collective human manifestations and experiences, whether they be traditional, creative, political, or historical.
Film is a versatile and potent medium by which we communicate stories, histories, cultures and opinions. Although never fully void of biases, documentary film in particular is a powerful way to share cultures and traditions.
To that end, the Periphery Center uses films, clips, and trailers to change the way people see the world and introduce them to places, stories, dances, musical styles and cultures they may otherwise never know about.