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Title: Theatre and performance about, with and by refugees andasylum seekers in the UK
Author: Jeffers, Alison
ISNI:       0000 0004 2678 8107
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines how perfonnance knowledges illustrate and define the power relations that are enacted when an individual claims political asylum from the state. It brings together two bodies of literature, from Refugee Studies and from Performance and Theatre Studies and places these within a framework of discussions on identity. It shows how, by combining these discourses, it is possible to create a better understanding of the theatre and performance practices made about, with and by refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. The study suggests that theatre and performance practices connected to refugees and asylum seekers can be arranged under three categories, theatrical perfonnance, cultural performance and performances of activism. All of these are conditioned by bureaucratic perfonnance which is defined as the legal/political operation by which claiming asylllm and being granted refuge are differentiated. Mistrust, and suspicion that develop as a result of this, is fuelled by a xenophobic press and this has generated a feeling of 'crisis'. The research is based on mapping and ethnographic methods which have been combined with practical research. Understanding the operations of bureaucratic performance creates greater levels of comprehension about the theatre and performance that is created about, by and with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Theatre practice tends to function as an educational tool, and is largely aimed at raising awareness in a British audience, explaining why people seek refuge and dispelling some of the myths that have developed around asylum seekers in recent years. Cultural performance with refugees is created within community and participatory arts and takes on the structUral and historical problems and dilemmas of these practices. Activist performance depends on the individual refugee and, of the three categories considered, is the least mediated by non-refugees although it is still heavily influenced by competing political agendas. The growth in theatre and performance around refugeeness since the early 1990s had been heavily conditioned by political debates concerning the authenticity of claims for refugee status. \V'hile forming a necessary first step, this approach is limited. Falling numbers of asylum seekers and the inevitable passage of time make it necessary to look beyond the crisis to a more considered practice which places questions ofhome and belonging at its centre.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available