Refugee performance: Encounters with alterity | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1757-1936
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1944



In 2006 there were 9.9 million refugees worldwide, as defined by the United Nations 1951 Convention, and 32.9 million persons of concern. In a comprehensive review of settlement programmes in Australia, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) concluded that there was an urgent need for targeted settlement assistance towards this group if they are to achieve full and active participation in society, and further research should be undertaken to track the progress of humanitarian entrants in the future (DIAC, 2009). The emotional, psychological and experiential impact of war and displacement on refugees has significant and long-lasting implications for both the individuals involved and the broader communities in which they live. Performers, theatre activists and human rights workers have for some time been interested in working with refugees. However, the category of refugee performance can be seen to create an essentialist frame from which the extrication of practice is almost impossible. The article will explore the performing of refugee representation through an examination of two examples of practice, one a small-scale theatre project in Queensland, Australia, the other a multifaceted arts project in the United Kingdom involving theatre, community photography and a combustible 25-metre sculpture. In the article, I will argue that the effort to construct a discourse about refugee performance is enmeshed in an unwavering paradox. Put simply, how may practice deal with refugee stories when the stories themselves (bureaucratic performance, personal stories as victimhood, suffering as spectacle) make an encounter with alterity more elusive?


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...
  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): applied theatre; othering; performance and war; Refugee; victimhood
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error