Stephen Wilmer

Stephen Wilmer

Interweaving Performance Cultures

Fellow 2014/15

S. E. Wilmer is Professor Emeritus at Trinity College Dublin, where he has been Head of the School of Drama, Film and Music. He is the author of Theatre, Society and the Nation: Staging American Identities (Cambridge UP, 2002), and has edited and co-edited numerous books, including Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism (Oxford UP, 2010), Native American Performance and Representation (Arizona UP, 2009); National Theatres in a Changing Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), Writing and Rewriting National Theatre Histories (Iowa UP, 2004), and the forthcoming Resisting Biopolitics: Philosophical, Political and Performative Strategies (Routledge 2015) and Deleuze and Beckett (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). He has been a Visiting Professor at Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He is also a playwright and has served as the Chair of the Publications Committee and member of the Executive Committee of the American Society for Theatre Research. 

Research Project

Performing Statelessness

The goal of this research project is to produce a monograph about the theatrical representation of statelessness. The refugee occupies both a local and an international position, straddling the borders of the nation-state. By definition s/he is in a state of becoming (as Hannah Arendt might put it), an exile of one country and not yet a citizen of another. The refugee is in a liminal state or in a kind of no man’s land, a non-person contained by the nation-state in a specially contrived holding centre, unable to work or function properly in society, effectively deprived of human rights and subject to deportation at any time. The position of the refugee and migrant has become increasingly perilous during the current financial crisis as nationalist movements in Europe have been gaining strength and threatening immigrant populations with expulsion. As a consequence, the refugee has become an increasingly visible subject in the theatre. This book project uses the writings of Agamben, Butler and Braidotti to theorize the issue of the stateless person within the discourse of biopolitics and relate it to recent plays and performances concerning refugees and homelessness. It will examine a variety of theatrical approaches, such as Glowacki’s Antigone in New York  (1993), O’Kelly’s Asylum! Asylum! (1994), Schlingensief’s Bitte Liebt Österreich (2000), Janez Janša’s The Slovene National Theatre (2007), Julien and Maliphant’s Cast No Shadow (2007), Yael Ronen’s Third Generation (2008) andJelinek’s Die Schutzbefohlenen (2013).

Recommended Publications

  • Braidotti, R., Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory (second edition). New York: Columbia UP, 2011.
  • Butler, J., Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso, 2004.
  • Agamben, G., Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford, CA.: Stanford UP, 1998.
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung