Nandita Dinesh reflects on her experiences with immersive theatre in conflict zones around the world—Guatemala, Kashmir, Rwanda. Her Introduction sets the tone for journeys to confluences of art and conflict.
Notes from the field
My first time on stage was when I was three years old. As was the case with many ‘good’ South Indian girls in my hometown, my mother enrolled me in classical Indian dance lessons at an early age — lessons to enhance my extra-curricular portfolio, to expand my knowledge of Indian culture, and to possibly become a resumé-builder when the time came to find me a husband. So, between the ages of three and thirteen, I performed as much as I did anything else. Between dance performances and ‘fancy dress’ competitions, I can barely remember a time from my childhood during which the performing arts were not a part of my life. In retrospect, it was perhaps inevitable that the realm of performance would become integral to my way of being in the world.
“Do you need intelligence to do what you do?” my grandmother asked me when I first told her that I intended to pursue a life, a career, making and researching the use of theatre in places of war. Sharing my newfound interest (at the time) with a family that was used to accountants, businessmen, and engineers was its own mode of ‘coming out’. In the years that have passed since that ‘coming out’, my family’s questions have been echoed by many around me: “Why theatre?”, “Why theatre in war zones?”, “What do you want to achieve?”, “Can you make money doing this?” The questions have abounded… Growing up in a smaller city in southern India, I believed during my childhood that I would become a chartered accountant and help with the family business. Then, I considered becoming a banker on Wall Street. Then, when I discovered my idealistic tendencies, it was Development Economics that became my area of focus. Discovering a passion for the theatre didn’t only astound my family; it also took me by surprise.
It was during my second theatre class in College — courses I had initially taken to fulfil the requirements of my liberal arts, United States education — that I had this epiphany. I remember sitting in class that day, in a circle. The professor asked each of us to talk about why we had chosen her class and why we were interested in studying theatre. As my classmates answered the professor’s question, I racked my brain for an answer that would seem appropriate. By the time it was my turn to speak, I remember being overwhelmed. I think I might have actually had tears in my eyes. I think I said something inane like “…because there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing”… I left the class that day, utterly perturbed. What had happened in there? What were those tears about? Rational answers are still difficult for me to provide when asked questions about why I make/research/write about theatre. But anyone who has encountered that passion — be it for a discipline, a person, or a cause — will know what I’m talking about. Discovering a passion for the theatre was my epiphany. Discovering, later, that it was not only a passion for the theatre but for studying the use of theatre in places of war, that was another epiphany; one that arose during a three month study abroad program in northern Uganda. This epiphany, the one about using theatre in times and places of war, is the one that has stuck with me for over a decade now. An epiphany that has catalysed innumerable dilemmas and insights. Dilemmas and insights that form the core of this book.
Why do I make theatre in places of war?
Where will I intervene?
Who am I creating work with/for?
What are the aesthetic strategies that I will use?
When might it be time to leave?
I keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.
Rudyard Kipling The Elephant’s Child
Since my first encounter with theatre in places of war as a naïve undergraduate student in northern Uganda, I have come to rely on Kipling’s ‘six honest serving-men’ (Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) to guide my theatrical investigations. By placing these serving-men in conversation with my experiences in northern Uganda, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Rwanda, Kenya, Nagaland, and Kashmir, this book offers analytic and personal accounts through which the processes of envisioning, creating, and implementing theatre-in-war interventions might be explored.
While there are many books that deal with Community Theatre, Applied Theatre, Theatre for Development, and Political Theatre, a specific focus on the use of theatre in conflict zones is not as extensively explored. The In Place of War Institute’s work at the University of Manchester is an exception, with scholars and practitioners like James Thompson (2003, 2004, 2005, 2009a), Michael Balfour (2007, 2009a, 2009b, 2012), and Jenny Hughes (2007, 2009a, 2011) putting forth theoretical frameworks to understand the positioning of performance in places of war; and also highlighting the work of artists in various conflict/post-conflict zones. However, the form that these scholarly explorations take tends to be ethnographic in nature, largely positioning the theatre-maker outside that which s/he is writing about. The Self, the practitioner herself, is more silent; her voice, whilst occasionally present, does not capture the multiplicity of experiences that are inseparable from the work. Therefore, while existing works about theatre-in-war contribute powerful ideas to the realm of scholarship, there remains a need for a book that will speak in a language and form that resonate as much with ‘doing’ as with ‘thinking about doing’. It is this space between doing and thinking about doing that this book occupies.
From a methodological lens it is performance auto-ethnography that guides the writing in this book. Returning to what differentiates this book from other scholarship about theatre in places of war then, it is precisely a privileging of the personal that does it. To a more traditional academic audience that values certainty and objectivity ‘it is easy to understand why [auto-ethnography] would be looked upon with suspicion’. However, Sundar Sarukkai (2007b: 1409) addresses this concern by drawing from M.N. Srinivas (1996), who places an ‘emphasis on the self-in-the-other’ and demonstrates an ‘underlying unease with the exclusion of the subject from anthropological discourse’. Since theatre-in-war projects are fraught with instances where Self and Other coalesce and fracture, I share Srinivas’ discomfort with the exclusion of the subject from the discourse surrounding this work. Therefore, rather than erasing my own subjectivity in this book, I make a conscious attempt to include the ‘I’ that has been an unavoidable component in my attempts to unravel the complexities of researching and practicing theatre in times and places of war. By invoking Norman K. Denzin’s (2009: 258) idea of the ‘Mystory’, the writing in this book is ‘simultaneously a personal mythology, a public story, a personal narrative and a performance that critiques’. In this vein, the auto-ethnographic writing in this book does not only include prose but also consists of ‘quotations, documents and texts, placed side-by-side, producing a de-centred, multi-voiced text with voices and speakers speaking back and forth’ (ibid.). In writing this work as auto-ethnography I seek for it to perform ‘struggle, passion, an embodied life’ (Denzin, 2009: 255). And in performing this ‘embodied life’, it is important to acknowledge that while my auto-ethnographic notes draw from ‘truths’, from ‘reality’, writing about experiences in retrospect always comes with the risk of embellishment and of mis-remembering. I try to be as honest as I can in writing about my past work, but since memories can be faulty, fragmented, and interpretive, my Notes from the field present my ‘truths’ as I remember them. And it is for this reason that I maintain the anonymity of the individuals and organizations that I speak about in this book, lest my interpretive recollections of the past place my collaborators at risk in the contexts of conflict in which they continue to live and work.
My articulations surrounding why I do what I do have been vastly different in each of the contexts where I have worked. The ideas that I present in the first chapter, Why, therefore come from critical analyses of past projects: what I have done, and more importantly, what I wish I had done. The Notes in the first chapter use my work in northern Uganda as a point of departure to consider evolutions in my articulations of intention in subsequent work.
I include, below, a timeline of my various theatre-in-war interventions over the last decade — alongside brief overviews of my intentions in each of these projects — so as to situate my repertoire for the reader of this book:
- 2005, northern Uganda: To research the use of Theatre for Development (TfD) in the region
- 2006–2007, Guatemala/Northern Ireland/Rwanda: To research the role of theatre during and after the years of the civil war/the Troubles/the 1994 genocide
- 2007–2008, Rwanda: To use theatre as a tool for peace building and post-conflict reconstruction
- 2009, Nagaland: To gain an insight into young people’s interest in theatre in Nagaland (a state in India’s north-eastern region)
- 2010, Kenya: To showcase experiences of Diaspora communities in India (Ahmedabad) and Kenya (Mombasa)
- 2010, Mexico: To conduct community-based theatre workshops, to explore the idea of the Global South, and to see if connections might be made between my projects in Mexico and my work in East Africa/the Indian subcontinent
- 2011–present, Kashmir: To create theatre across opposing community lines, in the grey zones between civilians, militants/ex-militants, and the Indian armed forces in the region
I first landed in northern Uganda in 2005 because I was on a semester-long study abroad program in the country. In my naiveté I didn’t know, when I first arrived in Kampala, that there was a war going on in the northern part of Uganda. Bruised by my own ignorance, I went north to Lira to assuage my ego; I went to Lira, in part, to complete an independent project that was an academic requirement of my semester abroad; I went to Lira to ‘do something’ with theatre. In Lira, I met a number of northern Ugandan artists who were engaged in theatrical efforts to mitigate the consequences of a war that has
consumed much of the region since 1986. In Lira, I witnessed the use of theatre in Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps, in rehabilitation centres for ex-child soldiers, and in bars. In Lira, I witnessed the passion and courage that it takes to make theatre in an active conflict zone: where one’s actions as a theatre practitioner are predicated not only on a consideration of possible repercussions, but also on having to be incredibly entrepreneurial in order to make a living as a theatre artist in a war economy. In Lira, I witnessed the politics of Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the ethics of humanitarian aid. In Lira, I witnessed rage against the international community and against people like me, who showed up wanting to see, wanting to listen, and wanting to ‘do something’, but who rarely ever did. Choosing to go to Lira was accidental; a choice that I stumbled upon given the circumstances in which I found myself. An accidental choice that, while immensely educational, was also problematic and ill informed. Unfortunately, my haphazard approach to choosing sites of intervention continued in 2006–2007 when I made the decision to visit Guatemala, Northern Ireland, and Rwanda as part of a traveling fellowship. While choosing Rwanda was slightly less arbitrary — in that I had visited Kigali for two days during the semester abroad in Uganda and it only seemed natural to return there and to learn more — Guatemala and Northern Ireland were tokenistic choices, I am ashamed to admit, to fulfil my desire to travel to as many diverse regions as possible. Africa: check. Central America: check. Europe: check… I spent two and half months in Guatemala, two and a half months in Northern Ireland, and was set to spend two and half months in Rwanda before spending the last two and a half months of the fellowship in Serbia.
But when I got to Rwanda, something shifted. Perhaps this ‘something’ was the embarrassment that came from realizing I had leeched off my colleagues in Guatemala and Northern Ireland but not really given back to them in any significant way. Perhaps it was Rwanda herself, with her natural beauty and lovely inhabitants, which drew me in a way that the other places didn’t. Perhaps it was because by the time I got to Rwanda, I was ready to see what I could do instead of researching what other people were doing. Whatever the reason, my intended two and a half month stint in Kigali lasted five months. Five months in which I found myself connected to a place — as trite as that might sound — unlike any other. I remember writing to my family and friends at the end of that sojourn talking about how I planned to return there; how I intended to move to Rwanda once I finished the MA that I had taken time off from in order to pursue the fellowship.
Returning to Rwanda in 2007–2008 was perhaps the first time I made a choice of place that was backed up by a firm intention. While my initial returns in 2007 were for only a few weeks at a time — since I was still in graduate school — when I returned to Kigali in mid 2008 after my MA, I intended to move there. I was going to live in Rwanda for the unforeseeable future, I told myself, an idea that was cemented in the belief that I could do something in the ‘land of a thousand hills’ that I could not do anywhere else… This certainty did not last for very long though and while the intricacies of my choice to leave Rwanda will be described in a later chapter, it was there that I made the decision to return ‘home’: to India.
Going back to India and looking to work in conflict zones in/around the sub-continent led to one of two larger possibilities: of working in one of the seven north-eastern states (Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, or Meghalaya) that have histories of separatist struggles, or of looking for possible projects in the region of Jammu and Kashmir, which has been at the focal point of many inter and intra state conflicts. While my projects in Nagaland and Kashmir have become significant to my trajectory as a theatre-in-war researcher-practitioner, returning to India after having lived in Rwanda also meant that I was constantly on the lookout for ways to link what were, to me, my two homes.
As a result, the notion of Diaspora entered my thinking and I began to investigate the narratives of the Asian Diaspora in East Africa and the African Diaspora in the Indian sub-continent. My work in Mombasa (Kenya), therefore, was a consequence of these investigations and resulted in a theatre-based exchange programme between two groups of high-school students from the regions in question. Manifesting as a Documentary Theatre project, students from western India interviewed African Indians in the city of Ahmedabad in western India, while students in Mombasa interviewed Asian Kenyans in their city. Months of preparation led to a weeklong devised workshop in Kenya, with both groups of students weaving together the knowledge they had gleaned from their interviews. Subsequently, this experience of encountering the narratives of Diaspora and thinking about the historical and cultural linkages between East Africa and India brought the idea of the ‘Global South’ into the purview of my research interests: what would it mean to look for theatre-based collaborations between Asia, Africa, and Latin America? And when my interest in the broad notion of the Global South grew stronger, given that I had spent much time in East Africa and India, I decided to take a trip to Mexico. While Diaspora was a theme that brought Africa and Asia into conversation with each other, was there an African Diaspora in Mexico? What were the narratives of the Asian Diaspora in this Central American context? Although interesting questions glimmered under the surface of this line of research, I gradually found that these questions were often so large and so abstract that I could not get a glimpse of answers to them. Ultimately, after six months of working with these questions in Mexico, I began to question the re-articulation of my work in terms of the Global South and returned, once again, to a more ‘pure’ focus on the use of theatre in places of war.
And it was then, upon my return to India from Mexico, that the most intentional of all my theatrical interventions — my choice to work in Kashmir — commenced. Casual theatre projects with organizations and individuals I was able to contact in the region morphed into a doctoral project which sought to work across the victim/perpetrator binary in the region; work that continues today, years after my first visit to Kashmir in 2010. It is this work in Kashmir that has most significantly clarified my thinking on what is and is not possible, for me/as me with theatre in a place of war.
Given the centrality of auto-ethnography to this writing project it is pertinent to explore some of the existing ideas surrounding this genre and to frame my own approach to auto-ethnography in this book. Corinna Brown (2013: 122) proposes that auto-ethnography might be seen as ‘research, writing, story, and method that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural, social, and political’. In this vein, approaches to auto-ethnography might be said to contain permutations and combinations of the common characteristics that Carolyn Ellis (in ibid.) proposes: ‘action, emotion, embodiment, self-consciousness, and introspection’. My blend of these auto-ethnographic characteristics is included within the sections entitled Notes; notes that can be found in each chapter and that are interwoven amidst texts that more closely follow the conventions of ‘academic writing’. Although my initial inclination was to be more experimental in my use of auto-ethnography in this book, there are two reasons that guide my more conservative approach. First, I do not want my use of auto-ethnography to create a layer of obscurity that might prevent a reader from being able to access the text. Rather, I hope to invite readers to engage with my experiences in the Notes as being in conversation with the ideas from scholarship that accompany them. Second, as this is my first book, I chose to heed advice that more extensive experimentation with writing might need to wait until I gain more ‘legitimacy’ as a scholar i.e., as one publisher told me, until I have a tenured position at a University and have published other books. While I certainly could not wait for a tenured job to manifest before writing this book, I have (gradually) come to accept that in my desire to participate in academic conversations just as much as to contribute to dialogue on theatrical practice, I need to find a balance: a balance between following some of the established conventions of academia while staying true to my own way of inhabiting the world of theatre-in-war. It is this understanding of balance that finally led to the particular auto-ethnographic strategies adopted in this book.
In speaking to auto-ethnography that involves the creation of/participation in/intersection with forms of performance, Denzin (2003a: 12) proposes that ‘[a]utoethnographer-performers insert their experiences into the cultural performances that they study’ and extends an idea from Toni Morrison (in ibid.: 20), that ‘the best performance autoethnographies, like the best art, are “unquestionably political and irrevocably beautiful at the same time”’. While Denzin uses Morrison’s statement to refer to auto-ethnographer performers in particular, I would like to extend his argument to my questions surrounding writing about theatre in times and place of war. How can I write about my work in a way that does justice to the politics involved in theatre-in-war interventions, while simultaneously creating writing that is beautiful? Can beauty, in writing, emerge through the quest for an embodied way to talk about ideas from scholarship? Can beauty, in writing, be found in an articulated humility that faces a daunting array of political, ethical, and aesthetic challenges? Can beauty, in writing, arise from an honesty that speaks lucidly — that does not seek ‘to simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple’ (Roy, 1999)? Performance auto-ethnographies are said to be composed with ‘reflexive, rhizomatic’ qualities and Denzin (in Sermijn, Devlieger, and Loots, 2008: 646) calls these works ‘messy texts’, i.e. ‘reflexive texts that try to break with the representational technologies that are typical for the traditional, realist writing forms’. Jasmina Sermijn, Patrick Devlieger, and Gerrit Loots (2008: 646) further propose that this approach to writing might appeal to writers who consider their writing to be ‘a way of framing reality’. Messy texts thus invoke a polyvocality that tends to be ‘many sited, intertextual, always open ended, and resistant to theoretical holism’ (Sermijn, Devlieger, and Loots, 2008: 647). In the messy text approach to this book therefore, I use auto-ethnographic elements so as to not ‘impose meaning on the reader’ and, in contrast to traditional texts in which the writer remains concealed like an ‘unobtrusive camera’, to visibly make myself ‘a part of the writing’ (ibid.).
That said, it is important to clarify that while ‘auto-ethnography contains elements of auto-biography, auto-ethnography goes beyond the writing of selves’ (Denshire, 2014: 833). As such, I do not discuss elements of my lived experience in this book as a form of autobiography, rather, I seek to use Mystory, my auto-ethnography, as a springboard from which to consider larger ideas surrounding theatre-in-war interventions. In this vein I must also confess to the reader that sharing elements from my personal repertoire is not a strategy that I am particularly comfortable with. I have found discomfort to arise when considering how the writing in this book might or might not fit within particular disciplinary frameworks; I have also felt a significant sense of uneasiness in making decisions about what/how much of a particular experience I might/can/should share with my readers. But, as DeLysa Burnier (in ibid.: 834) has said, ‘to write auto-ethnography you cannot feel completely at home in your discipline and the discomfort experienced at stepping outside your own received frame is part of the auto-ethnographic task’.
Revelling in my discomfort then, there is one last piece of framing that I would like to put forward to clarify my approach to auto-ethnography in this book. Carolyn Ellis and Arthur P. Bochner (in ibid.: 835) offer two methods of studying the genre: ‘evocative’ and ‘analytical’ approaches, ‘where evocative auto-ethnography foregrounds the writer’s personal stories and analytical auto-ethnography connects to larger structures that lie beyond the personal encounters’. I consider the auto-ethnographic writing in this book to occupy a space between the evocative and the analytical and as such, the Notes always begin with
reflections and analyses of personal experience. However, in so doing, the texts seek to use these ‘sociological introspections’ in a systematic way that might facilitate an understanding of what Ellis and Bochner (in ibid.: 835) call, ‘a way of life’. Perhaps it would be best then to call this book an attempt in ‘post-structural auto-ethnography’ where the writing seeks to be ‘simultaneously personal and scholarly, evocative and analytical, descriptive and theoretical’ (ibid.: 836). Furthermore, the reflexivity that I aim to invoke through this post-structural auto-ethnography might be seen as akin to what Kamala Visweswaran (in Denzin, 2003b: 269–270) proposes as a ‘deconstructive ethnography, where the observer refuses to presume a stable identity for self or other’ by ‘unsettling the notion of an objective, reflexive ethnographer’. Ultimately, my approach to such a post-structural, deconstructive auto-ethnography does not seek to question my knowledge but rather, in the words of Joe L. Kincheloe and Peter McLaren (in ibid.: 270), consciously aims to ‘forfeit its authority’.
Notes from the field
Given the centrality of identity when intervening in any context of war, the second and third chapters on Where and Who explore two streams to identity politics: the positioning of the theatre-in-war researcher-practitioner herself and the positioning of co-creators and spectators in a context of war.
In 2005, in my initial step into the world of theatre in places of war, it was the role of ‘student’ that seemed to most define my positioning in IDP camps and rehabilitation centres in northern Uganda. An experience that occurred at a time when I was ignorant about how to perform my own presence in such a fraught context, I wandered around Lira with a notebook in my hand; oblivious to what Thompson (2005: 11) says:
Firstly, when I did take out a notebook, it immediately changed the relationship between those to whom I was talking and myself. You can watch the respondent sit up and change tone and body posture. Their performance changed — and therefore their replies became an enactment of the expectation of what would be ‘noted’ rather than a free-moving discussion. […] The experience of visitors who take notes in moments of crisis for reports that respondents never see produced a distrust and a cynicism about this process.
Glued to my notebook and unaware of how this action impacted the ways in which I was perceived and responded to, it is perhaps no surprise that I could not see past my own role as a student in northern Uganda. I did not see, until many years later, the various kinds of relational acts of violence that exist within the large group of northern Ugandans that I had uniformly identified as ‘victims’. I did not see the hierarchies between northern Ugandans who occupied different social and cultural standings. I did not see the tensions between different lived experiences of child soldiering. I did not understand the sheer layers of politics to how funding was provided for the theatre work that I witnessed.
Instead, I saw the conflict in northern Uganda as a simple dichotomy between the ‘perpetrators’ from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the ‘victims’ of their acts of violence. In overlooking nuance, in overlooking the ‘grey zones’, I believe now that I performed a disservice in 2005.
A disservice to the people I met. A disservice to the stories I heard. A disservice to the larger quest of understanding theatre’s role in places of war.
When I went on after northern Uganda to Guatemala, Northern Ireland, and Rwanda, the requirements of the fellowship I was on were simple: I had to travel alone, to any country outside of India and the United States. While the earlier notes have explained the (problematically) tokenistic reasons behind my choosing Guatemala, Northern Ireland, and Rwanda as my sites of intervention, it was on this ten-month long trip that more insights into my own auto-ethnographic positioning began to emerge. In Guatemala, I found that it was being a woman that most impacted my presence in interviews, workshops, and performances. When speaking to ex-guerrilla fighters and accompanying these men on a countrywide theatre competition, my being a woman created a very gendered positioning in that Central American context. In contrast, in Northern Ireland and Rwanda, it was my race that became the most significant marker in my interactions. From being called a “Fucking Paki” whilst walking down a street in Londonderry to being told in Kigali that, “I didn’t know Indians could be nice till I met you”, race impacted both how I was seen and how I saw myself in those contexts. I must contextualize the latter instance though, and mention here that it was during my time in Uganda that I began to notice the complex relationships between Indians who live in the East African region and their non-Indian counterparts. The tensions that simmer between these racial groups was palpable and this tension was one that followed me into my work in Rwanda. While I had, through my experiences in 13
the United States and Northern Ireland, become hyper-aware of my race from the point of view of the ‘oppressed’ i.e., the post-colonial subject, as it were, it was in East Africa that I was suddenly on the other side; of being a (perceived) ‘oppressor’. When I returned to Rwanda for the second, third, and fourth times between 2007 and 2008, however, the racial dimensions to my presence there significantly diminished. I began to be positioned, and to position myself, as someone who could design programmes and raise funds for community-based theatre initiatives, and this standing gave me a position of power. Until, of course, the work hit a standstill and my house of cards collapsed — a string of events that I will discuss later on in this book.
It was also in Rwanda that I began to understand the importance of locating the politics of identity amongst my collaborators and spectators. Like many do, I initially thought of the population in Rwanda as being divided along tribal lines as Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa; as being divided between ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ in relation to the events of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. After a while though, I began to see some more layers to these identity affiliations. While no one used tribal associations to refer to themselves in public spaces in 2007, I slowly realized that new words had emerged to replace Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa: words like ‘survivor’ and ‘returnee’. Words that indicated the identity group that the individual in question belonged to. Words that if unused, well, that silence was an identity tag all its own — indicating that the individual was somehow associated with the ethnic group that had perpetrated the genocide. Eventually troubled by my own complicated positioning in Rwanda and by how to negotiate identity politics with relation to my intentions there (more on this in Where), I decided to go back ‘home’, to India. The thought of being in a place where I was more insider than outsider seemed incredibly appealing at the time. Not to mention the comfort that came from knowing that I would (most likely) be able to speak at least the same second language as my collaborators and spectators; the fact that I would be able to understand many of the cultural codes… Upon realizing how inept I was at navigating my positioning in Rwanda, going back to India seemed the best thing to do.
“Thank you for coming all the way from India”, I was told toward the end of a workshop in Nagaland; a statement that marked my Indian-ness as being somehow foreign to the actors and actresses that I was working with in this north-eastern state. Upon returning to India from Rwanda there were many such poignant moments in my interventions in the sub-continent; moments in which I had to encounter the experience being an outsider in ‘my’ country; moments of simultaneously being inside and outside (many) Indian contexts. These moments have been stimulating, educational, and inspiring. Just as much as they have been devastating, fracturing, and surreal.
“Thank you for coming all the way from India”.
“No, I can’t cast someone who looks like you. I need to cast someone who looks like an Indian from here”.
“Yes, but you’re not really Indian are you. I mean, you’re more American now”.
“You are like a man, you know. I don’t really think of you as a woman. Indian women act differently”.
I am clearly using the notion of identity quite loosely here, as a means through which I seek to situate my collaborators and myself in the contexts of various theatre-in-war interventions. As such, the ruminations and reflections on identity in Where and Who are not based on a particular methodological apparatus or framed by a central theoretical framework. Rather, in the spirit of practice-based research that has to employ a ‘bricolage’ of techniques based on what is available in a context, considerations about the performativity of various identity markers has become one of the tools I use extensively as a ‘bricoleur’ (Barrett and Bolt, 2007: 127) who makes/researches theatre in places of war.
The auto-ethnographic components and analyses in this book are shaped by projects that I have used a variety of terms to name: Community Theatre, Theatre for Social Change, Applied Theatre, Social Theatre, and Political Theatre. While I acknowledge that each of these terms comes with its own histories and complications, the issue of nomenclature is not one that I engage with in this book. Each time I write about a particular project therefore, I use the terminology that was utilized during the project in question: choices that were sometimes determined by my ignorance of another possibility, sometimes by my interest in a particular technique, and sometimes, by contextual specificities which influenced the terms I used to classify my work. For instance, in northern Uganda where Theatre for Development was widely understood, it was that term that framed my work. In Kashmir, where ‘theatre’ itself is not understood very well, I do not describe my work with any other label apart from just ‘theatre’. Regardless of the terminology, my work across these various contexts of conflict has two common elements: first, the projects are designed to include theatre workshops of differing durations. In these theatre workshops, I generally take on the role of the facilitator-director and in this role, I tend to focus on using non-hierarchical pedagogical methods. I qualify this statement by saying ‘generally’, since there have been occasional projects in which I only direct, co-direct, or write. That said, the exact nature of my involvement in a particular theatre-in-war intervention will always be contextualized for the reader in the relevant Notes in each chapter. The second common characteristic in all my theatre-in-war interventions has been the creation of devised performances as the culmination of workshop processes. These devised performances are conceptualized as original pieces of work; they are scripted, designed, and performed by the workshop participants. Every so often though, the performances have also taken the shape of locally relevant adaptations of existing texts. At the end of my workshop processes the devised creations are performed for different audiences: a public specifically chosen by local collaborators, a general public, or no public at all. Again, where necessary, clarifications regarding the specific audience composition to a performance will be shared with the reader.
In speaking about terminology it is also important to clarify my usage of the term ‘war’ in this book. A large number of my Notes come from experiences in Rwanda and Kashmir — perhaps the two most significant theatre-in-war interventions in my repertoire — and both these contexts fit a general understanding of a ‘war zone’, albeit in different ways. However, these two central experiences are also punctuated by my work in contexts like Kenya and Mexico, for example, which, while (generally) understood as being zones of ‘conflict’, might not quite so easily sit within the category of ‘war’. As such, when I use the term ‘war’, I do not intend to ignore the differing scales of conflict in each of the settings that I discuss. Rather I use the term ‘war’ because it is the concept with which I situate my work. Despite the term’s complications, the larger notions surrounding war have come to define the sites in which I intervene. Additionally, like the term ‘war’, there might be a few terms and ideas in this book that will seem insufficiently theorized for an academic audience that prizes nuance in definition and approach. Although I acknowledge this limitation in my writing, I must state that that I have made this choice intentionally, since I would like for this book to be accessible to audiences both within and outside academia. I have chosen brevity in certain instances that — in more traditionally academic writing — might require more unpacking and theorizing. When deciding how much to unpack a particular idea I often asked myself if my theoretical analysis would be accessible to an academic and non-academic readership alike. When my answer to this question was no, I curtailed my theorizing; when the answer was yes, the analysis was taken forward; when the answer was maybe, I attempted to find a balance between saying too much and saying too little.
As a final note on terminology it is necessary to clarify that I use the terms theatre-in-war ‘researcher-practitioner’ and ‘practitioner-researcher’ with specific intent, since I see my work as belonging to a larger genre of practice-based-research or practice-as-research. L. Hervey Wadsworth (in Brown 2013: 118), the original voice on art-based research in Dance Movement Theory, defined artistic enquiry as a research process that uses artistic methods of gathering, analysing and/or presenting data, that engages in and acknowledges a creative process, and that is motivated and determined by the aesthetic values of the researcher(s). Brad Haseman (in Smith and Dean, 2009: 6) takes this idea of practice-based artistic inquiry further, proposing the term ‘performative research’, where ‘practice is the principal research activity’ in which practitioners ‘tend to “dive in”, to commence practising to see what emerges’. Although Haseman acknowledges that practitioners who implement performative research strategies borrow from the qualitative research tradition, he clarifies that these borrowed strategies are adapted and moulded so as to resonate with the practice in question. Haseman says (in ibid.: 6), that ‘performative researchers progress their studies by employing variations of: reflective practice, participant observation, performance ethnography, ethnodrama, biographical/autobiographical/narrative inquiry, and the inquiry cycle from action research’. Haseman’s articulations further indicate the importance of responsiveness on the part of the performative researcher, a responsiveness that demands malleability in the practitioner-researcher’s approach.
Practice-based approaches to research seem to carry ‘a dual imperative: to provide direction and at the same time be willing to give up control and follow the surprise of what is emerging’ (Levine, 2013: 24). This fluidity required of the researcher, a fluidity that demands an ethical positioning that is ‘next to and with’ the work, simultaneously leads to the possible cultivation of ‘an essentially aesthetic attitude, one that can transform the scholarly task of doing research into art-making’ (in ibid.: 26–27).1 When I use the term theatre-in-war researcher-practitioner or practitioner-researcher therefore, it is to refer to those of us who seek to embody such an aesthetic attitude in our scholarly-artistic pursuits. I see these individuals as being those for whom practice is a principal research activity; individuals who make an effort to be responsive and malleable; individuals who provide direction while relinquishing control.
Notes from the field
Once an intention (Why), sites of intervention (Where), and identity politics (Who) have been considered, questions of What and When emerge. The last two chapters in this book therefore, consider questions of aesthetics and temporality, two concepts that — over the years — have become closely interrelated for me.
In northern Uganda, it was the genre of TfD that guided my work. As mentioned earlier, given that the research project in Lira was my first foray into the world of theatre in places of war, I was intrigued by the notion that theatre might be able to catalyse a change in the socio-political reality of a context. Therefore, despite my scepticism at some of the agenda focused work that I witnessed in northern Uganda, I believed — at the time — that theatre could become a tool in post-conflict reconstruction and healing. It was this belief then, this idea that theatre could actually ‘change’ a status quo, that guided my work in Guatemala, Northern Ireland, and Rwanda, where Theatre for Social Change was possibly the genre that best described the kind
1 These ideas around performative and practice-based research are drawn from my PhD thesis (Dinesh, 2015d). Throughout the book I make use of research undertaken for the PhD thesis, my MA project (Dinesh, 2008; 2013a), as well as from various articles and blog posts (Dinesh, 2006; 2013b; 2013c; 2014; 2015a; 2015b; 2015c).
of work I sought to investigate and create. The Theatre of the Oppressed (1984) inspired my understanding of such a Theatre for Social Change, and the Forum Theatre model was one that I worked closely with at the time. However, while I still consider Augusto Boal’s work to be inspiring, I gradually began to find the oppressor-oppressed binary problematic. Although Boal’s original exercises do allow room for considering the grey zones of relational oppression — where the oppressor/oppressed binary is nuanced and blurred; where we look for the oppressors inside our own heads — all the implementations of Forum Theatre that I have witnessed have tended to overlook the space for nuance… I have certainly fallen into that trap myself. Therefore, when Forum Theatre and the Theatre of the Oppressed became more limiting than revelatory to me, and as my own experiences in different contexts of war forced me to look beyond the traditional understanding of the oppressor/oppressed binary, I began to search for an aesthetic that would better suit my intentions and positioning.
I also realized toward the tail end of my time in Rwanda that one of my struggles with Forum Theatre (as I have seen it interpreted) is the prioritization of outcomes (the solutions that are suggested by Boal’s ‘spect-actors’ who participate in the performance) over aesthetics (the ways in which the problems are performed). Eventually deciding that I wanted to pay more attention to my aesthetic choices, I began to experiment more rigorously with the form of the theatrical performances that I directed in places of war. While I began my work in Rwanda with an approach that prized content over form, I subsequently designed interventions in which I prioritized form over content, before gradually arriving at my present aesthetic strategy of seeking to balance a focus between form and content through a consideration of novelty.
I still remember the first time I read Susan Haedicke’s (2002) article about a theatrical experience that she had been part of, in which she (as a spectator) had had to take on the role of a Chinese asylum seeker in the European Union. Reading about Un Voyage Pas Comme Les Autres Sur Les Chemins De L’Exil was the first time I came across what might generally be described as ‘Immersive Theatre’ and I was hooked! As I began to study the form further and to experiment with its elements, I also began to see resonances between Immersive Theatre and a play that had caught my eye in graduate school: Griselda Gambaro’s (1992) work Information for Foreigners (IFF) A 19
play that is written to be performed as a Promenade Theatre piece in a two-storied building — thus also becoming Site-specific, Site-adaptive, and/or Site-sensitive Theatre — Gambaro guides her spectators to different spaces and in each space, in each room or passageway, the spectators encounter an image/story/installation related to the years of the Dirty War in Argentina. Making the links between Chemins and IFF was like… like a bulb going off in my head… Immersive Theatre, Promenade Theatre, Site-specific Theatre… How did the elements of these forms relate to each other? I slowly began to introduce these aesthetic strategies into my theatre-in-war interventions, trying different combinations and permutations of promenade, site-sensitivity, adaptivity, specificity, and immersivity, and with each experiment I began to unravel the many questions involved in working with aesthetic forms that are considered ‘experimental’ and ‘novel’ in contexts of conflict.
However, it was only after one particular Immersive Theatre experiment in Kashmir in 2013 — a piece that I have written about in other work (Dinesh, 2015a) — that I began seriously to contemplate the notion of ‘novelty’. What are the implications of using ‘novelty’ in tenuous contexts of conflict? Are there particular ethical and pedagogical strategies that I could adopt, so as to more sensitively work with novel aesthetic forms in places of war? Given the challenging and uncomfortable ways in which audiences are asked to be vulnerable in theatrical experiences like Chemins and IFF, do such works become less ethically murky when implemented in obvious, post-conflict contexts? How might aesthetic novelty interact with questions of time and temporality? These intersections between aesthetics and temporality will be explored in the chapters on What and When.
A poignant insight that I have had about the notions of temporality has come from being a spectator to the April 2007 commemoration of the Rwandan genocide. In a performance that I witnessed in a sports stadium in Kigali, the actors realistically re-enacted a massacre that had occurred in a Rwandan church in 1994. Where men and women were hacked to death. Where babies were pulled out of their mothers’ arms and dashed to the ground. The performers used a toy baby to portray this last part: the ‘bad guys’ come into a church; they grab the toy baby from its mother’s arms and dash it to the ground.
I will never forget the screams.
When the baby in the play was dashed to the ground, there were screams from different parts of the stadium.
A scream from someone seated close to me.
A woman screaming.
Convulsing in her seat.
Red Cross volunteers immediately emerged with a stretcher, prepared for this woman’s seizures
Prepared for her shaking
Prepared for her screams
They laid her out on the stretcher and took her out of the stadium.
“It’s trauma”, I was told, “It happens every year”.
The Red Cross volunteers took the woman away,
But the screams persisted.
After all, the stadium could hold thousands.
It was this particular event in Rwanda that drew my attention to the implications of how time is represented within a theatrical creation about war (as distant/ proximal; as past/present/future) and to the temporal framing (during a time of commemoration, for example) in which a performance takes place. What are the ethical implications of performing realistic representations of a traumatic event for an audience with the lived experience of that traumatic event, during a time period in which the spectators’ sensitivity to that event is likely to be heightened? While the seeds for my questions about time, temporality, ethics, and aesthetics were sown during that performance that I witnessed in Rwanda in April 2007, my more nuanced considerations concerning time and temporality emerged much later, through my experiments with Immersive, Promenade and Site-specific/sensitive/adaptive Theatre. How relevant are questions of temporal distance/proximity to the ways in which theatre-in-war interventions navigate novelty in aesthetics?
I keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.
The Elephant’s Child
This book utilizes five of Kipling’s honest serving-men — Why, Where, Who, What, When — to frame its discussions and analyses. While each of these five serving-men have chapters to themselves, Kipling’s sixth guide — ‘the how’ — does not have a separate chapter. Instead, there are two ways in which ‘the how’ manifests in this work. First, each chapter is peppered with Notes that stem from particular contexts in my repertoire. These notes might be seen as ‘Mystory (Denzin, 2009: 258) and are designed to auto-ethnographically reveal some of ‘the hows’ from my experiences: how I encountered particular questions/issues during a theatrical undertaking, how I dealt with a specific project’s complexities, and how I reflect on an endeavour’s potential and limitations after the experience. In addition to these Notes, the second way in which ‘the how’ finds its place in this book lies in the proposition of a sequence in which the five Ws — Why, Where, Who, What, When — might be implemented. As such, the chapters in this book have been ordered in a particular fashion; a sequence that is also a suggested timeline for how a theatre-in-war researcher-practitioner might implement the five Ws. Although I cannot claim to have always followed the sequence of Why, Where, Who, What, and When suggested in this book, it is a sequence that I have come to consider beneficial when conceptualizing a theatrical intervention in a place of war. This is not to say that I see this sequence as being prescriptive or formulaic in any sense. There are some theatre-in-war researcher-practitioners for whom beginning with location might be more feasible than starting with a consideration of intention; there are possibly others for whom a temporal framing might be the best starting point. Readers of this book are thus invited to draw their own connections and to create their own sequence of the five Ws for their theatre-in-war interventions. The Notes and the proposed sequence of the five Ws are simply my two manifestations of the ‘how’ in this work; they serve to highlight the symbiotic relationship between theory and 22
practice; to speak to doing, without undervaluing the importance of thinking about doing.
The first chapter on intentionality, Why, offers proposals for how a theatre-in-war researcher-practitioner might go about thinking through why we do what we do. Given the specificity of the contexts in which we seek to utilize our theatrical skills and intentions, what elements might we consider when framing and refining the intentionality of our work? The second chapter, Where, proposes how these ideas of intention might then feed into a choice of location. Based on what we seek to achieve with our work in places of war, are there certain kinds of sites that might be easier to navigate than others? And once we decide on a site of intervention, how do identity politics come into the picture? How might we make informed and nuanced decisions about who we collaborate with in these spaces of conflict; how do we choose which audiences our work might best serve? These questions around locating co-creators and spectators frame the chapter Who. Who is followed by What, a chapter in which I suggest building on intention, location, and identity politics toward exploring the notion of novelty in aesthetics. So, once we have chosen a particular audience/co-creator demographic, what role might novelty play in our aesthetic choices as artists? Finally, in the chapter on When, I consider the final ‘W’; the frameworks through which we might explore notions of time and temporality so as to enhance a theatre-in-war researcher-practitioner’s intention, positioning, exploration of identity politics, and aesthetic choices.
From northern Uganda to Kenya, from Mexico to India, and from Guatemala to Rwanda, the last ten years have taken me on a vivid journey of contexts and conflicts that have forced me to engage with the five Ws in a variety of ways. Why do I do this work? Where am I best positioned to intervene? Who do I want to work for and with? What aesthetic strategies should I use? When will I create and perform the work? Why, Where, Who, What, and When have become my five serving-men on this journey; the serving-men that I use to refine the ‘how’ in my theatre-in-war interventions. I have not always been ‘successful’ in my theatre-in-war interventions; in fact, many of the Notes highlight instances where I consider my projects to have failed. And although these failures come with important ethical, political, and aesthetic implications, I cannot deny that my failures have significantly shaped the evolution of my work in places of war.
Notes from the field
While more context-specific information about each of the following regions/conflicts can be found in the chapters that follow, the notes below are short and ‘simple’ introductions to the eight project locations included in this book. I chose to include these introductory overviews as Notes since much of what I have come to learn about these contexts has been through my fieldwork. While archival research always preceded my theatrical interventions in these places of war, it was through theatre workshops, interviews, performances, and conversations that my knowledge about a particular conflict was nuanced and augmented. It is the knowledge that I have gained through practice therefore, that I include below.
In northern Uganda, an area roughly the size of Belgium, a war is going on, which has already claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people. The primary roots of this conflict have been traced back to 1986 — though this might be debated based on who one speaks to — when Alice Auma, a young Acholi woman in northern Uganda, proclaimed herself under the orders of a Christian spirit named Lakwena and raised an army called the Holy Spirit Mobile Forces. With this army, Alice Lakwena (Auma being possessed by Lakwena) waged a war against perceived evil: not only an external enemy represented by the then government but internal enemies in the form of ‘impure’ soldiers, witches and sorcerers. Joseph Kony picked up the mantle of Alice Lakwena by the end of 1988 and it is Kony’s movement that has now become known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA has been operational in the northern part of Uganda since 1986 and since then has extended its operations to South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the LRA’s struggles to rule Uganda by the Ten Commandments, this rebel army is believed to have recruited between 60,000 and 100,000 child soldiers and to have displaced around 2 million people throughout central Africa.
The civil war in Guatemala is said to have begun in 1960 and to have ended in the mid 1990s, when peace accords were signed between the Guatemalan government and different armed guerrilla groups. The struggle taken on by these guerrilla groups might be summarized as these outfits’ war against a system of governance in Guatemala in which anyone who was considered a minority and/or who expressed dissent against existing centres of power was killed, arrested, tortured, and/or disappeared — some might contend that these years of violence in Guatemala constituted a genocide. Since the signing of the peace accords, while a general sense of ‘peace’ has been achieved in the nation, there are still various social, political, economic, and cultural instabilities that Guatemala is contending with. Thus while the civil war is technically over, conflicts keep re-emerging in efforts to try the likes of General Rios Montt (from 2013 to the present moment): events that rehash the role the military played during the era of violence and thus reprise unaddressed questions about justice and impunity.
The Troubles in Northern Ireland might be described, simplistically, as a conflict between Catholics and Protestants; a struggle between those who identify with the United Kingdom and those who feel a deeper affiliation with Ireland; an on-going debate between unification and separation. When I stayed in Belfast for a few months between 2006 and 2007, I sometimes wandered up and down the Falls and Shankhill roads in the city; a spatial and physical separation between two opposing sides that I found well symoblized the current nature of the Troubles. While I had initially gone to the region believing it to be ‘post’ conflict, I left unsure as to whether the conflict had ended or simply just changed the way it manifested. I met with a number of artists in Northern Ireland, each focusing on a different dimension of the conflict: inter-community dialogue; intra-community development; cross-cultural engagement that aimed to integrate refugees/asylum seekers into a place that had/has its own divisions.
Rwanda has come to be widely known for the genocide of 1994, the violence that ensued there for a hundred days between April and July that year, leading to the loss of almost a million lives. The events of 1994 are said to have been the culmination of decades of violence between two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. In this long and conflicted relationship it is said that once every decade since the nation’s independence from Belgium, mass exoduses of primarily the Tutsi community have occurred due to oppression by different Hutu regimes. These frequent, forced migrations have led to a large number of Rwandans living as part of the Diaspora: some of whom have chosen to return to the nation after the genocide and others who have become new members of the Diaspora since the events of 1994. After the genocide ended in July 1994, the Rwandan narrative has been spun in a variety of ways. The most dominant one being that the nation is on its road to recovery. Under the leadership of Paul Kagame and the Rwanda Patriotic Front, who are often credited with having ended the 1994 genocide, the land of a thousand hills has come to be spoken about as a success story. In this narrative, Rwanda is touted for having become a stable economy under the effective leadership of Kagame; for attracting increasing amounts of foreign investment; for fostering more gender equality than any other nation in Africa. However, these dominant narratives are sometimes countered by other perspectives that — while spoken in hushed tones — are still making the rounds. In these hushed narratives lie speculations about the pattern of the current President in silencing his critics within and outside Rwanda’s borders. Also in this shadowy space exist conspiracy theories that see President Kagame’s hand in the shooting down of the then-President’s plane in 1994, a shooting that is said to have catalysed the genocide.
The Kenyan context is one that is a little more complicated to situate for the reader of this book. There are many conflicts that one might discuss in this East African nation: recent episodes of violence that have been attributed to Al-Shabab’s militant presence in the country; the various clashes that have occurred, and continue to occur, between Kenya’s multiple ethnic groups — one of the most recent of which was the outbreak of violence in 2007 after disputed election results. However, in the context of this book, I limit myself to exploring one particular conflict in Kenya: the one that emerges when we look at the relationship between the Asian Diaspora in the country and its African counterparts. While it was Idi Amin’s forcible expulsion of Asians from neighbouring Uganda that brought this conflict to the fore on a global stage, my experiences have indicated that the tenuous relationship between Asians and non-Asians extends to other parts of East Africa as well; issues that, in Kenya, are underscored by tensions relating to income inequality and (perceived) racism.
Similarly to Kenya, Mexico is home to a number of conflicts; the most recent narratives of which surrounds the mass disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa in 2014. Narratives of conflict in this country also include the drug related violence, the violence against women in places like Ciudad Juarez, and the occasional clashes that occur between the Mexican government forces and the Zapatistas’ indigenous rebel movement. This book however does not focus on any one of these conflicts.. While my initial foray into Mexico sought to explore the place for theatre within the dominant narratives of violence mentioned above, the then on-going nature of these rivalries (2010) made many parts of the country inaccessible to me. The conflicts that I explored, therefore, were the after-effects of the floods that hit the city of Puebla in 2010, some of the struggles in Chiapas because of the Zapatista presence in that region, and the issues found in some higher-risk neighbourhoods in Mexico City. That said, I cannot deny that the theme of violence was pervasive everywhere I went in Mexico: from constant news updates in TV news broadcasts and newspapers, to frequent conversations with my peers who spoke about the fear and hopelessness that they found themselves living with.
Nagaland, in north-eastern India, might be considered a ‘post-conflict’ zone. While a number of armed insurgent groups were active in Nagaland in the twentieth century, in their struggles for separation from the Indian nation state, these incidences of violence are said to have drastically reduced in the recent past. However, while violence in Nagaland is deemed to have declined drastically in the twenty-first century, the continued presence of the Indian government’s armed forces across the state suggests that a sense of unease still lingers. This unease might be attributed to the presence of armed insurgent groups in Nagaland’s neighbouring states. The unease might also be attributed to the fact that while Naga insurgent groups no longer use violent tactics, the groups remain active in other ways. The state of the conflicts in Nagaland is a sore point with the Government of India, as I learned when I proposed a cultural exchange project between young people in Kigali (Rwanda) and their counterparts in Dimapur (Nagaland). The Indian Government’s representatives in East Africa withheld funding and permission for this project in part because I had referred to the youth from both regions as being able to learn from the similarities and differences in their lived experiences of conflict. I was not-so-politely chastised for having the gall to compare Rwanda and Nagaland.
While the conflict in Kashmir is broadly understood as being a struggle between India and Pakistan, the reality is far more complex and dates back to the Partition of 1947. Initially a region that chose to be independent, Kashmir is said to have been annexed to India when the Hindu king of this Muslim-dominated region requested assistance from the Indian government to fend off an invasion from Pakistan. In return for its assistance, the Indian nation-state asked Kashmir to join its entity, assuring a plebiscite once ‘order’ was restored to the region. In this plebiscite, it was thought, Kashmiris could choose whether to remain part of India or become an independent nation state. Since Kashmir’s annexation to India however, ‘order’ seems to have never been restored to the region and as such, the plebiscite has never been held. Because of this, there are three larger groups into which Kashmir might be divided: those who want Kashmir to remain part of India; those who want the region to become part of Pakistan; those who ask for ‘Azadi’ i.e., an independent Kashmiri nation state. While this tri-partite framing of political ideologies causes one layer of complications, many more exist. There are different groups, for example, each with contrasting opinions as to how Jammu and Ladakh — the Hindu and Buddhist parts of the state that together with the Kashmir Valley form the larger entity of Jammu and Kashmir — fit within articulations of ‘Kashmir’. Additionally, conflicts emerge when we consider the positioning of the Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) Diaspora that is said to have been forcibly exiled from Kashmir during the height of the armed insurgency in the 1990s. More conflicts emerge when we look at migrant communities from outside the region who have now made Jammu and Kashmir their home. The issue in Kashmir therefore arises from an incredibly complex space made up of a tapestry of different conflicts.
The brief overviews of the conflicts above are in no-way extensive, of course. I simply use these introductions to situate, for the reader, the settings that are analysed throughout this book. In each subsequent chapter I will draw instances from my experiences across the above-mentioned spaces of conflict, seeking to show evolutions in my own approach to the Whys, Wheres, Whos, Whats, and Whens of theatre-in-war interventions. Onward then to the first W: Why.
Notes: Nandita Dinesh is Associate Director of the Bartos Institute for Constructive Engagement of Conflict at UWC-USA. Her book Theatre and War: Notes from the Field is available here: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/500/theatre-and-war--notes-from-the-field Open Book Publishers offers open access versions of all their books.