Performing Trauma in Central Africa

Performing Trauma in Central Africa

Shadows of Empire
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/21/2017
Format: Paperback 17 b&w illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-03247-8
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What are the stakes of cultural production in a time of war? How is artistic expression prone to manipulation by the state and international humanitarian organizations? In the charged political terrain of post-genocide Rwanda, post-civil war Uganda, and recent violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laura Edmondson explores performance through the lens of empire. Instead of celebrating theatre productions as expression of cultural agency and resilience, Edmondson traces their humanitarian imperatives to a place where global narratives of violence take precedence over local traditions and audiences. Working at the intersection of performance and trauma, Edmondson reveals how artists and cultural workers manipulate narratives in the shadow of empire and how empire, in turn, infiltrates creative capacities.

Author Bio

Laura Edmondson is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theater at Dartmouth College, where she is also affiliated with African and African American Studies. She is author of Performance and Politics in Tanzania: The Nation on Stage.


An intimately engaged, critical investigation into the complicated use of trauma by local, national, and international groups, and toward both neoliberal and resistant aims, in the post-genocidal Great Lakes region of Africa. Laura Edmondson has collected a compelling set of case studies that speak to performance studies, but to those working in theater activism, politics, and NGOs.Laura Edmondson's theorization of the "empire of trauma" provides an alternative insights into the interweaving of political paradigms from international development to conflict studies to performance studies. She also reflects on her own susceptibility to be engulfed into the empire's charms.

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Table of Contents

List of Acronyms
1. Competitive Memory in the Great Lakes: Touring Genocide
2. Marketing Trauma and the Theatre of War in Northern Uganda
3. Trauma, Inc. in Postgenocide Rwanda
4. Repetition, Rupture, and Ruined: Narratives from the Congo
5. Gifted by Trauma: The Branding of Post-Conflict Northern Uganda
6. Confessions of a Failed Theatre Activist
Afterword: Faustin Linyekula and the Labors of Hope