Staging Ecologies: The Politics of Theatricality and the Production of Global Ecological Subjectivities
Spiegel, Jennifer. 2010. Staging Ecologies: The Politics of Theatricality and the Production of Global Ecological Subjectivities. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]
Abstract or Description
Since the latter decades of the twentieth century, environmental threats posed by global industrialization have become a matter of growing public concern. Increasingly grievances are aired in the streets around the world, and are broadcast in the popular media. However, with the prominence of techno-scientific and ecomanagerial approaches to the ‘ecological crisis’ ecological discourse may be in the process of becoming the new rubric of global governance. Here I engage debates concerning biopolitics and the production of subjectivity, in order to assess the implications of the theatricality of interventions for recasting the terms according to which ecological problematics are approached. I pursue this question: How can theatrics intervene in shaping the political ecology of the future?
I begin this thesis by presenting a theory of the politics of theatricality as it applies to the development and reshaping of global ecological politics. In the subsequent chapters, I develop this theory in light of the uses of theatricality in the World Urban Festival, an ‘arts-for-social-change’ festival on the theme of ‘sustainability’ held in Vancouver; an environmental health education program launched in Ecuador with international support; and within local and international activist movements in the aftermath of the Bhopal Gas Leak, widely considered to be the worst industrial disaster of the twentieth century.
I argue that while the theatricality of such interventions can promote a particular ecological ethic that minimizes the politics at stake, theatrical interventions can also challenge the de-politicized naturalization of ecological problems. I conclude that the context and nature of relationships staged in and through each event shapes the politics of theatricality, and in turn, the production of global ecological subjectivities. As such, I identify the various challenges and opportunities signalled by this trend toward staging ecologies.