Academic Research, Writing & Teaching

A lioness and her captive audience. Photo by Gowri Vijayakumar.

A lioness and her captive audience. Photo by Gowri Vijayakumar.

My research is concerned with questions of performance, political violence and the figure of the animal. I work mostly on Eastern Africa, though sometimes my comparativist training draws my attention elsewhere. My dissertation, entitled Don't Show A Hyena How Well You Can Bite: Performance, Race & the Animal Subaltern in Eastern Africa, explored the ways in which racialized animal figures structure both the politics of performance and the performance of politics in Kenya and Tanzania from the 1910s to the 1990s. I filed my dissertation in 2017 and am currently reimagining it as a book, tentatively entitled The Animal Subaltern: Performing Race and Species in Africa. I am also working to translate the complete plays of Tanzanian dramatist Ebrahim Hussein from Swahili into English. If all goes according to plan, a critical edition of these plays will appear in 2019 or 2020.

My academic and critical writing has appeared in ASTR OnlineTheatre JournalThe Johannesburg SalonTheatre Survey and Performance Research. Please see my academia.edu page for more information and PDFs.

In rehearsal with student actors. Photo by Alessandra Mello, courtesy of TDPS.

In rehearsal with student actors. Photo by Alessandra Mello, courtesy of TDPS.

In 2016, I accepted a position as a Preceptor of Expository Writing at Harvard University, where I teach a freshman writing seminar (Expos 20) of my own design on black autobiography as well as an introductory course (Expos Studio 10). I also taught a fair amount as a PhD student in Performance Studies at U.C. Berkeley. My department's curriculum combined theoretical and historical inquiry with practical training in stagecraft, so teaching afforded me the welcome opportunity to synthesize my work as a scholar with my work as a practitioner. At Berkeley, I developed the syllabus for and taught New Play Practicum, a laboratory class designed to immerse students in the craft of new play development; Theater 25AC, an introductory survey course in which students investigate race and ethnicity in U.S. theatre and performance; and Introduction to Acting.

Images below (and on the main page), from left to right: Kokomo Jr., the "talking chimpanzee" who appeared on The Tonight Show and other television programs in the 1950s, © Getty Images; an (as far as I know) anonymous ape who features in many illustrations of the Infinite Monkey Theorem; and a dapper chimpanzee, likely named Consul, in a turn-of-the-century photograph © Hulton Archive / Getty Images.