ISSN: 17408296
First published in 2005
3 issues per volume
Volume 11 Issue 2
Cover Date: June 2015
Rent: Constructing community
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Authors:  Kristen Smith 
DOI: 10.1386/macp.11.2.225_1

rent,community,AIDS,New York City,America,power,identity,culture

Can a community – a culture – produce change and evidence ‘transformative practice’? This paper investigates the process by which marginalized individuals incite change through the means of language within their cultural communities. The musical Rent is the case study. In Community: Pursuing the Dream, Living the Reality, Suzanne Keller reveals recurrent elements of community: communities have shared territory, ideals, allegiances, and collective frameworks. All of these elements of community are featured in Rent. In Rent, there are three prominent manifestations of community: the AIDS Community, New York City Community, and America as Community. Each of these three manifestations evidence Michel Foucault’s three power struggles. Rent demonstrates the struggle against domination that the AIDS community faces as a result of being marginalized and disenfranchised. Additionally, Rent exposes the struggle against exploitation of residents during gentrification of the Lower East Side of New York City. Furthermore, Rent evidences America’s attempt and failure at constructing a community, subjecting its citizens to a dominant capitalist society and forcing its citizens into submission. Ultimately, Rent challenges America’s dominant ideology through the creation of a counter-discourse. The very act of challenging a dominant ideology is a powerful act. Rent evidences that community constructed through creativity and defined by love can inspire change.
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