Performing human rights: artistic interventions into European asylum

Marschall, Anika (2019) Performing human rights: artistic interventions into European asylum. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis argues that contemporary artistic interventions can contribute to our understanding of human rights as a critical and embodied doing. It unfolds its argument through three substantial case studies which respond to the politics of the so-called refugee crisis in Europe since 2015: the radical performance collective Centre for Political Beauty based in Germany, the Jordanian–British sound artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan based at the Forensic Architecture Agency in the UK, and the Dutch visual artist Jonas Staal and his international artist organisation New World Summit. This thesis examines how these three European artists have enacted political changes and shaped alternative socio-political conditions in regard to asylum: including perilous border crossings and/or arrival, the legal procedures of asylum seeking processes as well as the notion of statelessness. It argues that asylum and human rights is an ever-increasing nexus, which binds together powerful transnational institutions, law, state policies, activism and – crucially – aesthetics and creative world-making.

This thesis applies a mixed-methods approach that focuses equally on performance analyses and on political philosophy, critical legal studies and art history. In its holistic approach to the performing of human rights, the overall aim of this thesis is to advance the study of political theatre and performance by identifying three different emerging modes of aesthetics: the distributed, the forensic and the institutional, and by exploring how a sustained political engagement in the arts helps us negotiate meaningful solidarity. The findings have potential merit for theatre-makers and artists seeking new forms for critical art making about asylum and human rights.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues the electronic version of this thesis will not be available for viewing when the embargo period has expired.
Keywords: political theatre, intervention, activism, migration, asylum, human rights, refugees, statelessness, Centre for Political Beauty, Monica Ross, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Jonas Staal.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Bachmann, Dr. Michael
Date of Award: 2019
Embargo Date: 28 August 2023
Depositing User: Anika Marschall
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-74360
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 10:39
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2020 10:35
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.74360

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