The Aftermath: Reflections on Terror and Performance

Thursday, December 3, 2015 14:15 - 15:45

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Professor Bharucha is unable to present the lecture in person. The event will instead combine a specially recorded version of the lecture, an extended response from Professor Joseph Pugliese - author of Biometrics (2012), and State Violence and the Execution of Law (2013) - and a ‘live’ dialogue with Professor Bharucha on Skype. Professor Pugliese is Research Director of the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University.

Drawing on his recently published book Terror and Performance (Routledge 2014), Rustom Bharucha will probe the modalities and enigmas of the dangerous liaisons between terror and performance. The idea of performance will extend beyond theatre practice to encompass four primary sites of investigation: ‘September 11’, Islamophobia, Truth and Reconciliation in the larger contexts of post-apartheid South Africa and post-genocide Rwanda, and Non-Violence vis-a-vis the political practice and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi.

Using a dialogic mode of inquiry, he will throw out questions relating to the epistemological differences between ‘terror’ and ‘terrorism’; the ethical considerations in viewing the act of killing as ‘performance’; the efficacy of the Truth and Reconciliation process beyond the aporias of affect; and the ‘violence’ of non-violence. These issues will be contextualized within a spectrum of practices including suicide bombing, lip-sewing, blood-graffiti, and peace activism in diverse locations of the world.

To what extent can performance counter its complicities within a larger narrative of terror? Is non-violence viable in an age of terror? Can justice exist beyond – and against – the law? These are some of the critical questions that will be raised in the lecture, which attempts to provide a reflective framework on the terror of our times from a non-Eurocentric perspective seeking alternatives to violence and brutality through a renewed understanding of what it means to be human.

Rustom Bharucha is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.


Event type

Free Public Lecture


Copland Theatre, The Spot Building, 198 Berkeley St, Carlton