Academic Research, Writing & Teaching

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

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

I am a PhD candidate in Performance Studies, with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, at the University of California, Berkeley. 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, explores 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 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 sometime in 2018 or 2019.

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 will teach a freshman writing seminar (Expos 20) of my own design on black autobiography. I also taught a fair amount as a PhD student 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.