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Centre for Creative Ethnography

Politics of Performance

The Politics of Performance: From Negotiation to Display

This innovative creative practice module (ESA3002) asks how do we come to positions of performative knowledge and what types of political effects do different knowledges have? Through lectures, workshops and creative practices that dovetail with the outcomes of the AHRC Sounding Conflict project, we look at how music, dance and the arts are tools of conflict transformation and peacebuilding, as they variously give rise to cultural expressions of resistance, resilience, remediation and reconciliation.

Students have a unique opportunity to hear from arts practitioners working with a variety of creative practices who are dealing with different approaches to the arts in relation to violence, trauma and healing in specific regions around the globe. They keep a learning journal of their experience of the workshops and then either individually or collaboratively create their own artistic work that comments on the themes of the module. These are performed in a final showcase.

The external examiner responded that there are:

“very inspiring student presentations overall, with especially interesting portfolio work drawing on personal and engaged journeys with politics on the large/ small/ distanced/ closely-observed scales… The strengths of this course in bringing active practitioners in the field/ industry/ activist/NGO circles into the classroom and requiring students to find their own roles/commitment (or not) to politics through variously creative means is a fabulous example of good practice (of student engagement, student-led-content, practice-based assessment) to share in the wider HE scene” (External examiner 2022).


Just a few examples of the 19 students on the 2022 Politics of Performance module are as follows:

Sarah Moss and Victoria Irwin

Marrtje Schelkers and Taryn Clarke

Some student creative pieces and blogs on the Sounding Conflict website can be found here: