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Title: Performance in a time of terror : Critical mimesis and the age of uncertainty
Author: Hughes, Jennifer S.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2067 2988
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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In recent years, the contexts in which performances are made have been marked by a global conflict termed a 'war on terror'. The insecurity that this conflict instituted across local and global space intensified anxieties concomitant with a historical period that Zygmunt Bauman has called an 'age of uncertainty'. This thesis draws on the work of Bauman and other political theorists, most notably Giorgio Agamben, to investigate the politics of performance in an age of uncertainty. Following a review of contemporary scholarship exploring the politics of performance, the thesis examines a series of performances that have responded to or otherwise participated in wars on terror. These include: the performed violence of a beheading, the resurgence of 'political theatre' on the London stage and antiwar protest performances during the Iraq war (2003-2008). In addition, the thesis investigates community-based counterterrorism performances in neighbourhoods in the UK targeted as hotspots of terrorist activity following the suicide attacks in London on 7th July 2005. As part of these investigations, a study of the 'war against terrorism' in Northern Ireland (1969-1998), particularly focussing on the counterinsurgency's use of performance as a strategy and tactic of war, highlights the historical continuity of coalitions of performance, crisis and wars on terror. The term 'critical mimesis' is used to generate the conceptual terrain by which the politics of these performances are examined, in particular, to explore how they mirror, reproduce and resist crisis. Motifs of 'refusal' and 'waste' are repeatedly identified as important to the aesthetics and politics of these performances, and comprise the grounds for the thesis' conceptual contribution to understanding a politics of performance in an age of uncertainty. Firstly, the thesis progresses an understanding of performance's political potential as residing in practices of waste. Secondly, this highlights a shift in the focus of politically conscious performance, which moves from concerns for the 'radical' in performance, to reclaiming a conservative ethic and aesthetic as part of performance's radical project. As such, critical mimesis in performance during an age of uncertainty might be understood by means of recourse to concepts of conservation, waste, salvage and restoration, rather than radical excess, transformation or transgression.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available