International Politics and Performance: Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

International Politics and Performance

Critical Aesthetics and Creative Practice, 1st Edition

Edited by Jenny Edkins, Adrian Kear


278 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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In recent years we have witnessed an increasing convergence of work in International Politics and Performance Studies around the troubled, and often troubling, relationship between politics and aesthetics. Whilst examination of political aesthetics, aesthetic politics, and politics of aesthetic practice has been central to research in both disciplines for some time, the emergence of a distinctive ‘performative turn’ in International Politics and a critical return to the centrality of politics and the concept of ‘the political’ in Performance Studies highlights the importance of investigating the productivity of bringing the methods and approaches of the two fields of enquiry into dialogue and mutual relation.

Exploring a wide range of issues including rioting, youth-driven protests, border security practices and the significance of cultural awareness in war, this text provides an accessible and cutting edge survey of the intersection of international politics and performance examining issues surrounding the politics of appearance, image, event and place; and discusses the development and deployment of innovative critical and creative research methods, from auto-ethnography to site-specific theatre-making, from philosophical aesthetics to the aesthetic thought of new securities scenario-planning.

The book’s focus throughout is on the materiality of performance practices—on the politics of making, spectating, and participating in a variety of modes as political actors and audiences—whilst also seeking to explicate the performative dynamics of creative and critical thinking. Structured thematically and framed by a detailed introduction and conclusion, the focus is on producing a dialogue between contributors and providing an essential reference point in this developing field.

This work is essential reading for students of politics and performance and will be of great interest to students and scholars of IR, performance studies and cultural studies.


A brilliantly executed and creative collaboration. The product is not just a contribution to discourses on politics and aesthetics, but a productive mobilisation of what Edkins and Kear call ‘cross-talk’. The critical methodologies that emerge are used to explore core questions such as warfare and political protest. Vivienne Jabri, King’s College London, UK.

Table of Contents

Introduction,Jenny Edkins and Adrian Kear I Logics of Staging 1. Traces of Presence, Adrian Kear 2. Facing and Defacing, Jenny Edkins II Aesthetic thought and the politics of practice 3. Justice and the Archives: ‘The Method of Dramatization’, Michael J. Shapiro 4. ‘The little cold breasts of an English girl’ or Art and Identity, Alexander García Düttmann 5. Animating Politics, Diana Taylor 6. A Golden Screen: On Virtuosity and Cosmopolitics, Joe Kelleher III Ontological and ethnographic co-performance 7. Theatre as Post-Operative Follow-up: The Bougainville Photoplay Project, Paul Dwyer 8. Stagecraft/ Statecraft/ Mancraft : Embodied Envoys, 'Objects' and the Specters of Estrangement in Africa, Sam Okoth Opondo 9. Impossibilities: Generative Misperformance and the Movements of the Teaching Body, Naeem Inayatullah IV Bodies politic and performative 10. Embodied Audience: The politics of relation and participation in Coriolan/us,Patrick Primavesi 11. Bellies, Wounds, Infections, Animals, Territories: The Political Bodies of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Stuart Elden V Dramaturgies of scenario and security 12. Power, Security, and Antiquities, Christine Sylvester 13. Staging war as cultural encounter, Maja Zehfuss 14. Lines of Sight: On the Visualization of Unknown Futures, Louise Amoore

About the Editors

Jenny Edkins is Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. Prior to joining the Department as Leverhulme Special Research Fellow in 1997, she taught at the University of Manchester and the Open University. She co-edits the successful textbook Global Politics: A New Introduction, now moving into its second edition, and has published six other books, including most recently: Missing Persons, Missing Politics (Cornell, 2011); Trauma and the Memory of Politics (Cambridge, 2003) and Whose Hunger? Concepts of Famine, Practices of Aid (Minnesota, 2000).

Adrian Kear is Professor of Theatre and Performance at Aberystwyth’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies. His publications include Theatre and Event: Staging the European Century, London: Palgrave, forthcoming 2013; On Appearance (with Richard Gough), London and New York: Routledge, 2008; Psychoanalysis and Performance (with Patrick Campbell), London and New York: Routledge, 2001; Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance of Grief (with Deborah Lynn Steinberg), London and New York: Routledge, 1999.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins ( and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory