Skip to main content Skip to navigation

National and Transnational Identities

Work under this theme focuses on questions of the national, transnational and intercultural in terms of shifting identities, cultural exchange and the wider contexts of exile, colonialism, neoliberalism and globalization.

In her edited volume, Theatre and National Identities: Re-Imaging Conceptions of Nation (Routledge, 2014), Holdsworth has invited contributors to consider the appeal and persistence of the nation and ideas of national identity as conceptual categories for reading theatre practice in the context of shifting national circumstances and preoccupations with globalization, internationalism and transnationalism. It takes the position that the idea of ‘nation’ and a sense of what national identity constitutes in different national contexts is still very much alive in cultural practice. Her chapter ‘Over And Beyond Under Milk Wood: Dylan Thomas, National Icons And Re-Imagining The Cultural Landscape Of Wales’, explores how contemporary theatre-makers have sought to explore Thomas and Under Milk Wood’s contested position in Welsh culture and to re-assess their significance, legacy, influence and reverberations. Holdsworth is currently working on a monograph British Theatre: the nation and social abjection (Palgrave, 2018), which focuses on ideas of internal rift, combustion and discord by addressing various manifestations of the British nation cast as threatened or divided from within. Drawing on Jacques Rancière’s call to generate moments of dissensus in the perceptual and aesthetic field and Imogen Tyler’s appeal for a critical practice of ‘countermapping’, the book is concerned with how theatrical practice creates alternatives to dominant narratives and images of stigmatization evident in political campaigns, media discourse and popular debate around ‘socially abject’ national citizens including migrants, rioters and Gypsies and Travellers.

Yvette Hutchison’s work pays attention to how artists address and negotiate intercultural exchange within and between cultures through their creative processes and practice in the context of previously colonised countries. In particular she asks questions about how culture activates and complicates an audience’s awareness of their positionalities and intersubjectivities in relation to the contested memories and histories of colonialism. Jim Davis’s work includes a joint research project with Professor Veronica Kelly of Queensland University on transnational cultural exchange between Britain and Australia from 1880-1960. The project looks at the influence of new communications technologies – both transportation and media – and of the South African and first and second World Wars on changing cultural relations between England and Australia. It seeks to shift significantly the way Anglo-Australian cultural exchange is mapped and evaluated and to establish how, during this period, Australian interactions with British popular and elite culture established new patterns of cultural exchange. Davis is also interested in transnational identities (he has just completed a short study of the Australian dancer and actor Robert Helpmann) and, with particular reference to the nineteenth century, the different ways in which performances were mediated and interpreted across different cultural environments. Silvija Jestrovic’s work on national and transnational identities has been particularly related to topics of exile, identity, representation and space. For example, her essay “Born in YU: Performing, Negotiating and Transforming an Abject Identity” explores some of the issues, constructions and complexities of national identities by focusing on Yugoslav identity in the aftermath of Yugoslavia’s downfall as a nation.

  • Selected Publications on National and Transnational Identities:

    Holdsworth, Nadine, Theatre and National Identities: Re-Imaging Conceptions of Nation (London: Routledge, 2014)

    Holdsworth, Nadine, ‘This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England’: staging treatments of riots in recent British theatre’ Journal of Contemporary Drama in English 2 (1) 2014, pp. 78-96

    Holdsworth, Nadine ‘These Green and Pleasant Lands: Travellers, Gypsies and the Crisis of Englishness’ for Twenty-First Century Drama edited by Sian Adiseshiah and Louise LePage, (Palgrave, forthcoming, 2015)

    Hutchison, Yvette, ‘Accessing ‘the “zone of occult instability where the people dwell” (Fanon’s phrase) – South African engagement with colonialism and ethnography in the postcolonial/ global context’, forthcoming

    Jestrovic, Silvija, “Born in YU: Performing, Negotiating and Transforming and Abject Identity”, Theatre and National Identity, ed. N. Holdsworth, Routledge, 2014, 129-45


Nadine Holdsworth: Theatre and National Identities: Re-imagining Conceptions of Nation (2014)

harry lauder

Jim Davis: British Australian Culture Exchange: Live Performance 1880-1960 (Research Project)