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The Spaces Between: Performance, Individualisation, and the Politics of Global Change

Taylor, Alexa (2015) The Spaces Between: Performance, Individualisation, and the Politics of Global Change. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis responds to the difficulty inherent in attempting to address global challenges that require global solutions, such as climate change and extreme poverty, from within an increasingly individualised society. In this context, opening up spaces to engage with the world through alternate frames of reference can be seen to be a powerful political act: inviting response-ability, fostering and deepening connections, and calling the systemic into question. Performance offers one such site of engagement. As a bodied activity that situates the spectator in relation to people, to places, and to the world, performance can expand some of the connections that individualisation and globalisation compress. As such, it can be argued that performance holds the potential to unsettle the globalised and the individualised: to traverse the increasing space between them and to blur, oppose, or look beyond their boundaries. In this thesis I explore that potential, drawing upon cultural theory and performance theory, three case studies of performance works that evoke the global but disrupt the globalised, and a performance-as-research project that shifts the focus to the local and localised connection. Through these creative and theoretical bodies of work I consider the capacity of performance to critically reframe the globalised present, to awaken the cosmopolitan imagination, to invite the spectator to engage and respond, and to suggest the actual possibility of a more equitable and sustainable world. Performance, it becomes evident, can be a productive site for negotiating global change: not by necessarily providing a solution to sustainability concerns or inciting political actions, but rather by creating moments of disruption in the current frames of globalisation and individualisation to act as an opening through which change comes about.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Grehan, Helena and Johnstone, Allan
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