I am an Associate Professor in Human Geography and the Geohumanities at Swansea University. My research focuses on the intersections between geography and the performing arts (especially theatre and dance), though like most geographers working in a creative field, my interests extend into other domains, including the visual and literary arts.
I am one of the Reviews Editors for the journal Cultural Geographies and in 2017 was awarded the Dillwyn Medal by the Learned Society of Wales for the Creative Arts and Humanities. I sit on the board of Papertrail Theatre Company in Cardiff and am assisting Bridget Keehan in developing a soundscape entitled ‘Our Place’ through a Leverhulme Trust Artist-in-Residence grant. My main research currently focuses on the geopolitics of the first Cambodian dance tour to the West after the Khmer Rouge genocide (1975-1979) which was in 1990 to the UK. This work is funded by a British Academy-Leverhulme Trust small grant. I’m also co-editing an anthology of British East Asian (BEA) plays with Aurora Books, and working on an interdisciplinary project funded by the Welsh Crucible about the re-construction of marine environments through literary and scientific sources.
My research specialises in British East Asian, Asian American and South East Asian theatres, and explores 3 themes that are linked by a focus on performance and politics:
1. Issues of racial diversity and inequality in British and American theatre, particularly for East and South East Asian minorities. I have worked with communities to campaign against the performance of yellowface at the RSC and Music Theatre Wales, as well as in the private sector (e.g. the Printroom).
2. The transnational mobility of artists and the effect of that movement on the development of creative practice and identity. My work has particularly explored the movement of practitioners and performances between British East Asian, Asian American, and South East Asian (primarily Singaporean) theatre worlds and forms the focus of my monograph: Performing Asian Transnationalisms: theatre, identity and the geographies of performance.
3. The relationship between theatre/dance, war and geopolitics. In my monograph I examined refugee Lao American theatre that dealt with America’s so-called ‘Secret War’ against Laos. I have been developing this work in relation to the Cambodian civil war and the Khmer Rouge genocide. Here, I am concerned with how national identities are recovered, reworked and embodied in performance, how war and traumatic events can be represented on stage – particularly in ways that attend to their affective ambiguity, and the politics surrounding this process. I am also beginning to investigate how we might view artists as geopolitical agents – from Cold War defectors, to working as cultural intermediaries that facilitate inter-state and inter-ideological relations.