I am a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography researching the performing arts, particularly theatre. This makes me part of an expanding group of creative cultural geographers establishing the field of the GeoHumanities. I am also one of the Reviews Editors for the journal Cultural Geographies. In May 2017 I was awarded the Dillwyn Medal from the Learned Society of Wales for Outstanding Early Career Research in the Creative Arts and Humanities.
I am interested in the intersections between geographical phenomena and performance on a variety of fronts and am currently working with Bridget Keehan on a site-specific theatre project funded by a Leverhulme Artist in Residence grant. However, my research addresses three main concerns:
The first is the politics of diversity in British and American theatre, particularly for East Asian minorities. The problems of racism in theatre and its resulting politics of exclusion, the representation of difference in performance, the demand for equal opportunities, and the creation of new modes of subjective being, are all key themes that I explore in my research. I am an unashamed advocate for diversity, and I have worked with communities to campaign against racism in the entertainment industries, particularly regarding the performance of yellowface.
Secondly, I am interested in exploring the transnational mobility of artists, the geographies that their mobilities create, and the effect of that movement on the development of creative practice and identity. I have particularly explored the movement of practitioners and performances between British East Asian, Asian American, and South East Asian (primarily Singaporean) theatre worlds. This work formed the focus of my British Academy fellowship and resulted in a monograph entitled Performing Asian Transnationalisms: theatre, identity and the geographies of performance, which was published with Routledge in 2015.
Finally, my research is interested in the relationship between post-conflict performance and geopolitics. I started exploring this my monograph, where I documented how Lao American refugees created theatre that dealt with the consequences of America’s so-called ‘Secret War’ against Laos. More recently, I have been developing this work in relation to the Cambodian civil war and the resulting Khmer Rouge genocide. Here, my research is 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. This is especially important in contexts where the neoliberal state is open to transnational forces that promote creative experimentation, resulting in performances that potentially conflict with the agendas and ideologies of authoritarian regimes.