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Translating hiraeth, performing adoption: art as mediation and form of cultural production

Durey, Judith (2010) Translating hiraeth, performing adoption: art as mediation and form of cultural production. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Performance Studies as a site of resistance bridges the gap between theory and practice. As an ‘inter-discipline’, Performance Studies occupies an ideal borderline location from which to stress the crucial mediatory power of creative production, as well as providing a critical space for interrogating the liminal subject positioning of adoption as framed under Western legislation. This autoethnographic performance into adoption (re)stor(y)ing is an arts-based inquiry generated through my praxis and the ‘particular’ life experience of excavating the silences and social norms within a ‘closed’, cross-cultural, adoption. As a form of knowledge production, this experiential process of meaning-making is integral to my arts-practice and research. This body of work challenges the limitations of linear thesis writing and the more traditional tenets of legitimate academic inquiry, as espoused by Enlightenment thinking. In this project, I draw together issues of agency and (il)legitimacy within adoption as an institutionalised social practice, with issues of performative and (il)legitimate modes of knowledge production within academic hierarchies of literacy. Following a hermeneutic spiral, a mediated body of research is substantially represented through the multimedia Installation, Translating Hiraeth (pronounced ‘hirr-eye-th’). Employing a fragmented narrative structure and a form of ‘critical nostalgia’, Translating Hiraeth examines this in-between space called ‘adoption’. Juxtaposed with the (re)stor(y)ing project, which makes visible the contingent, embodied processes of understanding over time, is a broad socio-political overview of adoption. Here, I take into account political and legislative change leading to recent paradigm shifts in adoption thinking including new international agreements and the effects of globalisation. These changes open up the past within an ever-changing present. The creative project offers an emotional and performative site exposing the dialogic nature of translating the ‘self’ across families, cultures, places and pasts, whilst also questioning contemporary notions of identity and (be)longing. It is my intention that Translating Hiraeth Performing Adoption enacts autoethnographic praxis as a generative force of expression, as social commentary and means of cultural production.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): De Reuck, Jennifer and Petkovic, Josko
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