Caught in a space between a body’s habitual moves and something new, we perform strange and sometimes unexpected manoeuvres. Asked to walk in the shoes of another, to embody a new form of cultural performance, or to occupy the transit spaces of global mobility, the normally second nature way in which we perform our bodies gives way to more fluid, multiple, and confusing performances of self. These in-between moves— moments of being “out of place” or even “out of body”—are examined in this thesis as performances of interculturality.
Tracing developments in intercultural performance scholarship within the broader performance studies field, I argue for greater accounting of what it is, in embodied terms, to perform in the in-between. Patrice Pavis (1996) suggests that intercultural performance is most meaningful when it is conceived as intercorporeal work; but what kinds of intercorporealities (and intracorporealities) do performers experience in moments where they encounter their own possibility for cultural variation or change? I argue that scholarship in the field tends to implicitly conceive of the theatrical stage as the zone of cultural interaction, a construction which situates the corporealities of performers as representations of reified cultures. Rather than a recognisable genre of theatrical performance, I propose that “intercultural” and “performance” are discourses, or proposed frameworks for thinking about the world, which can usefully challenge assumptions contained within each other.
Organised in three parts, the thesis explores performance examples from locative art (Janet Cardiff) and tourism (Soundwalk), contemporary dance (Akram Khan, Ade Suharto), and everyday life (travel in the airport). The project draws on theory from a wide range of disciplines (including performance and dance studies, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, human geography, and cultural and postcolonial studies) to argue for a rethinking of the embodiment of in-betweenness as a kind of intercultural performing, and for this to be thought via fundamental relations to being a body in space and time.