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Staging intangible culture: migrant theatre productions

Author Miriam COHN
Director of thesis Prof. Dr. Walter Leimgruber
Co-director of thesis
Summary of thesis This PhD-study is part of the SNF-sinergia project „Intangible Cultural Heritage – the Midas touch” and investigates theatre by migrants as intangible culture. Theatre has a very obvious intangible side: Despite the involvement of material elements, theatre very much “is” because of what happens in the interactions of participants, settings and tools. There is always a possibility of failure present at performances and theatre is very much ephemeral. There is also a strong relation to society in theatre: Theatre mirrors developments and changes in society, serves as a memory of cultural knowledge and is strongly linked to processes of identity. To investigate these intangible aspects and their connection to society is one aim of the study. Focussing on theatre by migrants, this study secondly investigates the passing on of traditions by doing and watching theatre. I want to find out, how theatre by migrants can be looked at outside discourses of integration: How theatre forms, play repertories, acting techniques and the use of language are enriched and changed by migration and cultural flows. I investigate migrants doing professional or non-professional theatre as bearers and producers of culture and try to find out which sources are included in the processes of doing theatre. As the research project addresses the UNESCO convention for the safeguarding of intangible heritage and its implementation in Switzerland (which is being done at the present time), my study also aims at reflecting critically concepts used by and notions implicit in the convention: The concepts of nations and locality, questions of power and cultural politics in the processes of defining terms like “culture”, “quality” or “heritage” and the role of orality / mediality in the processes of transmitting traditions. For this, I plan to survey migrants’ “theatre scene” in Switzerland and will then focus on 4 – 6 theatre groups of different compositions in the area of Basel. These should include groups that define themselves by nationalities as well as groups with mixed nationalities. For all the groups, not only the actors but also its directors, backstage crews and possibly sponsors and part of the audience will be included in the investigation. Leading theoretical approaches of the investigation are performance-, body / embodiment- and media-concepts; methodological approaches are participant observation, interviews and filming.
Status finishing
Administrative delay for the defence
URL http://www.unibas.ch/kulturwissenschaft