For six years Maya Stovall staged Liquor Store Theatre, a conceptual art and anthropology video project---included in the Whitney Biennial in 2017---in which she danced near the liquor stores in her Detroit neighborhood as a way to start conversations with her neighbors. In this book of the same name, Stovall uses the project as a point of departure for understanding everyday life in Detroit and the possibilities for ethnographic research, art, and knowledge creation. Her conversations with her neighbors-which touch on everything from economics, aesthetics, and sex to the political and economic racism that undergirds Detroit's history-bring to light rarely acknowledged experiences of longtime Detroiters. In these exchanges, Stovall enacts an innovative form of ethnographic engagement that offers new modes of integrating the social sciences with the arts in ways that exceed what either approach can achieve alone.
Maya Stovall is Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and an artist whose work has been exhibited and performed at institutions and events throughout the world.