Dr Swati Arora

Department: Humanities
Discipline: Drama

Project Summary

My doctoral project analysed the relationship between street theatre practices in Delhi with the spaces of their performance. Using performance analysis, auto-ethnography and critical theory as a means of navigating through Delhi and its spatial and performative markers of caste, class, gender, religion and right to place, my thesis offered a commentary on the urban materiality of Delhi.

My conceptual framework was based on the negotiation of Henri Lefebvre's trialectics that I adapted to develop a model more suited for a spatial analysis in a postcolonial context. The questions I asked are: What are the geographical, ideological and social affiliations of the performing artists and how might these influence our understanding of their performances? What narratives are present in a performance – including, but not limited to, the narratives of the staged fiction? How do the political and cultural conditions in Delhi lend themselves to the production of radically subversive theatre on the streets? I negotiated, critically and with some irony, the central psychogeographical trope of the flâneur, not only along the gender lines, but also visa-a-vie a different kind of city to position my own mapping of the city as I performed my research. My research demonstrated the ways in which performances are embedded within the spatial production of the city, and why one cannot consider street performance without detailed understanding of the specific city addressed. 


Supervisory Team

Prof Cathy Turner and Prof Narendar Pani

​External Examiner: Prof Silvija Jestrovic 


Wider Research Interests

Theatre in India, gender and performance,  South Asian urbanisms, performance and the city, art and activism, visual cultural studies, urban ethnography, postcolonial theory, religion in public spaces.