Jayathilake, Rajakarunanayake Mudiyanselage Chitra (2015) Biopolitics and postcolonial theatre: a comparative study of Anglophone plays in South Africa, India and Sri Lanka. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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This study interrogates the ways in which biopolitics, as represented in Anglophone theatre from the 1970s to the present day, coerces and regulates postcolonial subalterns within the contemporary socio-political milieu. Using seven plays from three postcolonial regions – South Africa, India and Sri Lanka – the thesis comparatively investigates how internal and global biopolitical operations culminate in overt violence. Research questions explore the nuances of biopolitical trajectories, their tragic resonances and the way these biopolitical stratagems are theatrically articulated and challenged. This study is also concerned with the extent to which biopolitical praxis and consequent violence in these postcolonial territories is shaped by Western colonialism and its legacies. The corpus of plays encompasses: Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi is Dead (1972) and The Island (1973); Mbongeni Ngema’s Asinamali! (1985); Mahasweta Devi’s Mother of 1084 (1973); Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest (1999); Ernest Macintyre’s Rasanayagam’s Last Riot: A Political Fiction for the Theatre (1990) and Irangani: A Tragedy of Our Times (2009). The research frames its argument through current scholarship on postcolonial criticism, and draws on the works of Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben. Foucault’s work on the regulation of human beings through the production of power/knowledge serves as an initial medium of investigation into the praxis of biopolitics. Agamben probes the covert and overt presence of biopolitical violence in contemporary society, particularly through his concept of state of exception. By exploring convergences and divergences of biopolitical subterfuges, and through the juxtaposition of the subalterns’ subjection to violence, the study reflects critically on contemporary biopolitics through Foucauldian and Agambenian lenses. The thesis suggests that postcolonial Anglophone theatre foregrounds a potential to understand the biopolitical logic more meaningfully, and to be resistant to its strategies of coercion: Anglophone plays may contribute to the decolonisation processes, to react against internal and global forces of suppression.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Contributors: Palladino, M (Thesis advisor)
Amigoni, David (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2017 11:51
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2020 09:28
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3240

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