An Anecdotal Account of Transnational Performance Scholarship

A reflection on the experiences of performance scholars working internationally.

As academic labour becomes increasingly internationalised and contingent, scholars range across more varied professional, geographical, and institutional landscapes. Although recent scholarship has been attentive to the transnational circulation of theatre and performance, and although efforts to collect data on the state of the profession are ongoing, our understanding of the transnational circulation of performance scholars is anecdotal and based in professional and social networks.

My presentation extends this tendency rather than correcting it. In addition to the American Society for Theatre Research’s efforts to compile empirical data on the state of the profession, ASTR launched a ‘Tell Me’ exhibit at its annual conference in 2013, in which members responded to the prompt, ‘How’s Work?’. I will pose slightly more specific questions to my own extended network of performance scholars who work (or have worked) in countries different to the ones in which they were trained.

While I will curate responses, as much as possible, I will present them in the scholars’ own words. In addition to consulting scholars at institutions in Australia, Singapore, UAE, USA, Canada, UK, Turkey and Denmark, I will reflect on my own experience moving to Melbourne from the USA. By sketching an anecdotal portrait of a newly mobile generation of performance scholars, I will reflect on the personal, professional, and intellectual mobilities afforded by contingency.