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Seeking entitlement: a performance ethnography exploring the paradoxes of trauma and testimonial in refugee performance

Misra, Smita (2015) Seeking entitlement: a performance ethnography exploring the paradoxes of trauma and testimonial in refugee performance. Master of Arts by Research (MARes) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

This dissertation responds to some significant publications on refugee theatre and performance that have been released in the last fifteen years. Consolidating some of the major concerns and debates, the problems confronted have been conceptualized as paradoxes: (1) the paradox of trauma and neo-colonial benevolence in applied theatre and (2) the paradox of testimonial authenticity in the portrayal of refugees in staged performances. The research is an ethnographic case study of three young asylum seekers partaking in a theatre production in Canterbury. The devising process of the theatre project is set alongside the daily activities of the migrants’ lives and unfolding action of their asylum claim. The theatre monologues were featured in a community project on migration to Kent in April 2014. With an overarching objective to bear witness to the project participants, the research questions are as follows (1) how does the language of trauma come to bear on the biographies of individual asylum seekers? (2) how can refugee performance illuminate and respond to the paradox of language, narrative and representation? Using a self-reflexive ethnographic methodology, the researcher writes about her own becoming as a devised theatre practitioner and community volunteer (befriender). The collected data includes the researcher’s journal entries, the participant’s performance pieces and creative pseudo-fictions inspired by the relationships between the researcher and her participants. The study concludes that (1) refugee theatre has a tendency to presume the biases of audiences, thereby perpetuating the paradoxes of trauma and testimonial, (2) the language of trauma can be powerful in the asylum seeking procedure and that (3) migrants rely on performance in everyday life to subvert the forces of control that dictate their situations. The dissertation then provides suggestions for applied theatre interventions scripts involving refugees and witnessing studies.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Arts by Research (MARes))
Thesis advisor: Shaughnessy, Nicola
Thesis advisor: Klich, Rosemary
Uncontrolled keywords: Performance Ethnography, refugee, asylum seeking, PTSD, postcolonialism
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theatre
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2016 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:09 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/54733 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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