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. 

Areas of Expertise

  • The geographies of the performing arts
  • Space, place and performance
  • The GeoHumanities
  • Identity and multiculturalism
  • Transnational cultures
  • Politics and performance

Publications

  1. Advancing the geographies of the performing arts. Progress in Human Geography, 030913251769205
  2. Material migrations of performance. Area
  3. British Chinese Performance in Minor Transnational Perspective. In Thorpe A and Yeh D (Ed.), Contesting British Chinese Cultures. Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. Box on ‘Post-conflict tensions in contemporary Cambodian dance.’. In Harriet Hawkins (Ed.), Creativity (Key Ideas in Geography). (pp. 290-293). Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
  5. Performing Asian Transnationalisms: Theatre, identity and the geographies of performance. New York: Routledge.

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Teaching

  • GEG217 Creative Geographies

    This module explores different understandings or `modes¿ of creativity and their relationship to geographical concepts and debates. It examines the productive interchanges between geography (both as a discipline and as a critical practice) and artistic expression to critically assess the myriad ways that creativity saturates our everyday worlds. The module addresses the politics surrounding different valuations of creativity ¿ from a contributor to the UK economy, to an artistic practice with an intrinsic value, to a capacity for combining activities and ideas that we all demonstrate on an everyday basis. In so doing it considers how creativity may reproduce and redefine social spaces. The module is divided into ten geographies through which we might understand creativity and creative practice. These `sites¿ often work in tandem with one another, but may also create tensions as different values and ideas come into conflict.

  • GEG259 Data Analysis

    This module examines the importance of statistical data analysis in quantitative research in both Human and Physical Geography. A range of statistical methods with wide application are discussed, using theoretical explanation and practical examples to illustrate their use. Particular importance is given to placing these techniques within the broader context of Geographical research. Powerful, industry-standard statistical analysis software is used in the computer practical sessions. In addition to statistics, the module also introduces students to the presentation and analysis of data using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), giving an overview of this topic, illustrated with practical examples.

  • GEG263A Conducting Social Research - Methods

    The module covers research project design and data collection methods. Students are introduced to the availability of different data sources and to the predominant research methods in human geography and the social sciences, including questionnaire surveys, secondary data sources, focus groups, interviews, participant observation and ethnography, and visual and textual methodologies.

  • GEG333 Geographical Research Frontiers

    This module provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their competence as a Geographer by undertaking a critical analysis of a wide variety of literature-based sources in order to develop a cogent, substantial, and persuasive argument. While the Dissertation in Geography normally focuses on the design and execution of an evidenced-based research project that assesses the capacity of students to undertake effective data analysis and interpretation, the purpose of this module is to assess the extent to which students are capable of engaging with the academic literature at the frontier of a particular part of Geography. Students select from a wide range of research frontiers in Human and Physical Geography that have been identified by the academic staff within the Department. Given that this module emphasizes student-centred learning, none of the frontiers will have been covered in other modules, although in many cases modules will have taken students up to some of these frontiers. However, to orientate students and provide them with suitable points of departure and way-stations, there will be a brief introduction to each frontier and a short list of pivotal references disseminated via Blackboard. (Note: The topic selected by you must not overlap with the subject of your Dissertation. If there is any doubt about potential overlap, this must be discussed with your Dissertation Support Group supervisor and agreed in writing.)

  • GEGM15 Qualitative Research Methods

    This module provides an introduction to the main data-sources and analysis methods used in qualitative research. In addition to covering the key conceptual and epistemological issues associated with qualitative research design, the module provides an introduction to a range of qualitative techniques used in social science research including questionnaire design, interviewing, observational methods, visual methodologies and textual analysis. Issues associated with combining a mixture of qualitative methods are also considered. The strengths and limitations of various techniques are explored with particular emphasis on issues of reliability, validity and representativeness.

Supervision

  • Ethnic Groups and Multi-culturalism in Seoul and London (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David / Dave Clarke
  • Dramatic creativity and political engagement among young voters in Wales (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton
  • Between Culture and Identity: An investigation of the multiple identities of Muslim women living in Swansea (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Keith Halfacree
  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David / Dave Clarke
  • ‘An Area the Size of Wales:’ Environmental Attitudes and the Geographical Imagination (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David / Dave Clarke
  • Challenging Far-Right Extremism: The other side of the coin? (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Angharad Closs Stephens
    Other supervisor: Mr Robert Bideleux
    Other supervisor: Dr Helen Brocklehurst

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2012 Present Lecturer in Human Geography Swansea University
2009 2012 British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow Royal Holloway University
2008 2009 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography Royal Holloway University
2004 2008 Ph.D. Geographies of Identity and Performance Royal Holloway University
2002 2003 MA Cultural Geography (Distinction) Royal Holloway University
1999 2002 BA Geography University of Cambridge

Key Grants and Projects

  • ASEASUK-British Academy-ECAF Fellowship 'Geopolitics and Performance: The role of NGOs in contemporary Cambodian dance' 2014

    , £3,500

  • British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship ‘Geographies of Transnational Theatrical Creativity’ (PDF.2009/429) 2009 - 2012

    , £259, 953

  • Office for World Austronesian Studies, Taiwan. 2009

    , Approx. £1000

  • ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (PTA 026-27-1668) 2008 - 2009

    , £90,887.45

  • ESRC Doctoral research studentship 2003 - 2006