Review of Performance and Cosmopolitics: Cross-Cultural Transactions in Australasia, by Helen Gilbert and Jacqueline Lo, and Unsettling Space: Contestations in Contemporary Australian Theatre, by Joanne Tompkins.

The recently instigated series 'Studies in International Performance' from Palgrave Macmillan is currently providing some of the most interesting, thought provoking, and indeed necessary research in the field of comparative performance studies. As well as the two texts reviewed here, we should note Judith Hamera's Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the Global City and Christopher Balme's Pacific Performances: Theatricality and Cross-Cultural Encounter in the South Seas. The guiding motivation behind this series, born out of the aspirations and culture of the International Federation for Theatre Research, is made clear by an introductory preface from its overseeing editors, Janelle Reinelt and Brian Singleton. The series has been deemed timely and necessary, as they put it, because 'it has become increasingly urgent for performance scholars to expand their disciplinary horizons to include the comparative study of performances across national, cultural, social and political borders'. One can only agree with this analysis ofthe place ofthe performance scholar in tracking the cultural impact of the globalised turn in identarian politics. The real importance of such work, as they put it, is that as well as countering ' the homogenizing tendency to limit performance paradigms to those familiar in our home countries', it also provides an amenable context within which a new kind of performance scholarship can be privileged - scholarship 'that takes account of and embraces the complexities of transnational cultural production, the new media, and the economic and social consequences of increasingly international forms of artistic expression'. This is an argument with far- reaching implications, and there is certainly something bravely ambitious in Reinelt and Singleton's assertion that '[C]omparative aesthetics can challenge the limitations of perception and current artistic knowledges'. In the increasingly globalised context within which contemporary cu ltural production and reception are sited, performance in all its forms is necessarily (regardless of whether this is made explicit or kept more covert) engaged with processes and frames of reference that are transnational and/or deconstructive of essentialist notions ofnational stability. The individual studies that make up this series each clearly take as their aim the exploration of the forces, pressures, needs, fears and desires that shape the modem experience of performing identity in a world of complex negotiation and slippage.

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Published 1 October 2008 in Volume 23 No. 3. Subjects: Crosscultural relations, Theatre & performing arts.

Cite as: McNulty, Eugene. ‘Review of Performance and Cosmopolitics: Cross-Cultural Transactions in Australasia, by Helen Gilbert and Jacqueline Lo, and Unsettling Space: Contestations in Contemporary Australian Theatre, by Joanne Tompkins..’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, 2008. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.e2ffd10e54.