The Politics of Interweaving Performance Cultures: Beyond Postcolonialism, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Politics of Interweaving Performance Cultures

Beyond Postcolonialism, 1st Edition

Edited by Erika Fischer-Lichte, Torsten Jost, Saskya Iris Jain


308 pages

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This book provides a timely intervention in the fields of performance studies and theatre history, and to larger issues of global cultural exchange. The authors offer a provocative argument for rethinking the scholarly assessment of how diverse performative cultures interact, how they are interwoven, and how they are dependent upon each other.

While the term ‘intercultural theatre’ as a concept points back to postcolonialism and its contradictions, The Politics of Interweaving Performance Cultures explores global developments in the performing arts that cannot adequately be explained and understood using postcolonial theory. The authors challenge the dichotomy ‘the West and the rest’ – where Western cultures are ‘universal’ and non-Western cultures are ‘particular’ – as well as ideas of national culture and cultural ownership.

This volume uses international case studies to explore the politics of globalization, looking at new paternalistic forms of exchange and the new inequalities emerging from it. These case studies are guided by the principle that processes of interweaving performance cultures are, in fact, political processes. The authors explore the inextricability of the aesthetic and the political, whereby aesthetics cannot be perceived as opposite to the political; rather, the aesthetic is the political.

Helen Gilbert’s essay ‘Let the Games Begin: Pageants, Protests, Indigeneity (1968–2010)’won the 2015 Marlis Thiersch Prize for best essay from the Australasian Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies Association.


Helen Gilbert’s essay ‘Let the Games Begin: Pageants, Protests, Indigeneity (1968–2010)’ won the 2015 Marlis Thiersch Prize for best essay from the Australasian Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies Association.

"Collectively, the essays in The Politics of Interweaving Performance Cultures offer a provocative argument for rethinking the paradigms that structure the scholarly assessment of how diverse performative cultures interact, how they are interwoven, and how they draw – indeed how they are dependant – upon each other. Reading this book, one cannot help but feel that its essays are opening the first round of what will become a very significant debate." – James Harding, University of Warwick, UK

"The book repeatedly makes the point that the interaction of performance cultures is a political process, and yet it also provides solid empirical research and essays practically exploring specific productions. In this way it avoids obscuring experiences by crunching abstract data, and is able to provide a fascinating perspective on other countries and cultures via the study of performance." -- Anton Krueger, Rhodes University, South African Theatre Journal

"Assuredly an academic resource that must be considered requisite for any performance studies context committed to exploring cultures in all their diversities." -- Deirdre Osborne, Goldsmiths University of London, Theatre Research International

Table of Contents

Introduction: Interweaving Performance Cultures: Re-thinking ‘Intercultural Theatre’ Towards an Experience and Theory of Performance beyond Postcolonialism Erika Fischer-Lichte Part I: Strategies and Dynamics 1. Postcolonial Modernity: Theatre in Morocco and the Interweaving Loop Khalid Amine 2. Cultural Interweaving in Mexican Political Cabaret Gastón A. Alzate 3. Farewell and Welcome Back, My Concubine: Female Impersonation on the Chinese Stage Shen Lin 4. Performing Orientalist, Intercultural and Globalized Modernities: The Case of Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir by the Théâtre du Soleil Brian Singleton Part II: Rituals and Festivals 5. Oceanic Imagination, Intercultural Performance, Pacific Historiography Margaret Werry 6. Dancing for the Dead Jacqueline Lo 7. Un/familiar Landscapes: Tragedy and Festivals Natascha Siouzouli 8. "Let the Games Begin": Pageants, Protests, Indigeneity (1968–2010) Helen Gilbert Part III: Failures and Resistances 9. Hauntings of the Intercultural: Enigmas and Lessons on the Borders of Failure Rustom Bharucha 10. Strategic Unweaving: Itō Michio and the Diasporic Dancing Body Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei 11. Linguistic and Cultural Interweaving on the Contemporary English and American Stages Marvin Carlson 12. Failed Stages: Postcolonial Public Spheres and the Search for a Caribbean Theatre Christopher Balme Epilogue: Global Pathways Homi K. Bhabha

About the Editors

Erika Fischer-Lichte is Professor of Theatre Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. From 1995 to 1999 she was President of the International Federation for Theatre Research. She is a member of the Academia Europaea, the Academy of Sciences at Göttingen, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina at Halle. She is also director of the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures" (since 2008) and spokesperson of the International Doctoral School "InterArt" (since 2006). Among her many publications are Global Ibsen. Performing Multiple Modernities (2010), The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics (2008, German 2004), and Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual. Exploring Forms of Political Theatre (2005).

Torsten Jost studied theatre as well as journalism and communication studies in Berlin. He is a research assistant at the International Research Center for Advanced Studies on "Interweaving Performance Cultures," Freie Universität Berlin, where he is working on his PhD thesis on the plays of Gertrude Stein, about which he has published numerous essays in German. Together with Erika Fischer-Lichte et al. he recently edited the book Die Aufführung. Diskurs – Macht – Analyse (2012).

Saskya Iris Jain studied at Berlin’s Freie Universität and Columbia University, and holds an MFA in Fiction from Boston University, where she was the recipient of the 2010 Florence Engel Randall Award for Fiction and the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship for travel to Iran the same year. As well as writing fiction and non-fiction, she has translated and edited numerous essays and books for publishers in Europe and the US. Her translation of Erika Fischer-Lichte’s The Transformative Power of Performance: A New Aesthetics was published by Routledge in 2008.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Theatre & Performance Studies

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering theatre and performance alongside topics such as religion, politics, gender, race, ecology, and the avant-garde, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Performance