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Embodied Voices: Ethics and politics of voice and body in performance

Embodied Voices Research Network


In the wake of global movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, questions around the inclusion of oppressed voices currently sit at the heart of the performing arts community (including poetry, theatre, music and dance). Whether in discussions about colour-blind casting in Hollywood or major opera houses deciding if canonical stage works that problematically depict marginalised people should still be performed, the cultural implications of giving voice to marginalised experiences and ideas through performance are more important now than ever. To date these issues have remained largely untouched by philosophy, yet philosophy can bring important and distinctive understanding to the debate through ethical and aesthetic analysis of performance and embodied voice: What happens when artists invoke other voices in their work, and how does this shape the work's reception? What are the implications of performing someone else's lived experience, such as a work that makes reference to another's body?

Although such questions are raised by practitioners in the performing arts, this has not been addressed in a systematic or thorough way with limited opportunity for reflection giving way to practicalities of producing creative output. By bringing together academics (from philosophy and other disciplinary backgrounds such as dance studies, theatre studies and musicology) with expertise in the performing arts, body aesthetics, feminism and ethics together with practitioners of the performing arts, this network aims to develop an urgently needed ethical framework, which can help the sector negotiate these complex issues and improve representation, inclusion and equality for unjustly marginalised groups and further theoretical reflection on these issues.

Join the network: email to be added to the mailing list, hear about our events and join in the discussion.


Project leads

Dr Karen Simecek

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Warwick

Dr Toby Young

Professor of Composition, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Advisory board

  • Dr Katie Ailes, poet, researcher and producer
  • Charnjeev Kang, artist
  • Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh, theatre director and producer
  • Dr Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca, Academy of Theatre and Dance, Amsterdam University of the Arts
  • Professor David Davies, McGill University
  • Dr Aurelie Debaene
  • Dr Katharine Jenkins, University of Glasgow
  • Dr Anna Pakes, University of Roehampton
This research network is funded by AHRC