Anika Marschall

Research title

Performing Human Rights

Research summary

As of 2015, many European states fail to fulfil their international legal obligations to protect human rights – an accusation which they reject by highlighting a 'crisis momentum' and the lack of capacity to act. In contemporary theatre performances as well as ethical protest movements, different agents claim for (political) participation to enact human rights. My thesis seeks to trace, analyse and theorise the agency of theatre artists and protest movements in their attempt at challenging the understanding of human rights. In what ways do theatre practices perform the International Bill of Human Rights and reflect upon its inherent performativity? How do theatre practices influence and contribute to the understanding of how human rights are constructed beyond law? What is mobilised when theatre practices probe legal boundaries? Do they possess a transformative power?

My research will interrogate these questions through a comparative phenomenological analysis of theatre collectives drawing on illicit performance practices to enact human rights (e.g. Centre for Political Beauty, and John Jordan), theatre artists drawing on legal performance practices to enact human rights (e.g. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Leibniz, and Institute for Political Murder), and ethical protest movements using theatrical methods for their interventions (e.g. Occupy, 15M, and Witness against Torture). My thesis reflects with this method on the theatrical agency of making claims for performative participation and I further question ethicopolitical implications related to these different forms of theatre. To probe epistemological and ontological effect, to evaluate the different performances' legitimisation of claims for protesting, and to further develop an argument towards the efficacy of theatre as a performative form of jurisdiction, I will conduct interviews with theatre audiences and public participants, as well as advocates and politicians who accused these theatre artists of breaking law.


The State at Play? Notions of State(less)ness in Contemporary Interventionist Performances. Critical Stages, No.14 (2016)

Zerstörungshumor' als Denkfigur in Antonin Artauds Theater der Grausamkeit. SYN. Magazin für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft, No.8 (2014): 21–30. [On Destructive Humour in Antonin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty]

Texträume als Performanzerfahrung in Claudia Bosses 'dominant powers. was also tun?'. DIENADEL. Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Kunst und Medien, No.2 (2013): 78–102. [The Performative Experience of Text Spaces through Claudia Bosse's Performance dominant powers. what is to be done then?]


10/2016 – AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership Scotland, University of Glasgow

10/2016 – Full Subsistence Scholarship for Postgraduate Research, College of Arts/University of Glasgow

08/2016 – Conference Bursary, Gesellschaft für Theaterwissenschaft

07/2016 – Travel Bursary, School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies/University of Warwick

06/2016 – Postgraduate Research Award, School of Culture and Creative Arts/University of Glasgow

05/2016 – Collaborative Research Award, College of Arts/University of Glasgow

10/2014 – Deutschlandstipendium, Scholarship for Master’s studies [German National Public Private Partnership Foundation]


Conference Papers

11/2016 – "an assault team that establishes moral beauty": Centre for Political Beauty and its Chorus of Criticism. GTW Congress, Frankfurt/Gießen, Germany [German Society for Theatre Studies]

07/2016 – Moving Towards and Beyond: Performing Protest in Contemporary Theatre. University of Warwick, UK

06/2016 – Between Ethics and Aesthetics: European Artists Responding to the “Refugee-Crisis”. GRAMNet Research Open Day, Refugee Festival Scotland, UK

06/2016 – Performing statelessness in The First Fall of the European Border (2014)The State at play? New Scholars Forum, IFTR, Stockholm/Sweden

05/2016 – Dramaturgies of the Border: Performing Statelessness Through Processional Aesthetics in The First Fall of the European Border (2014). Annual Theatre, Film and Television Studies and CCPR Postgraduate Symposium, University of Glasgow, UK

03/2016 – The Dead Are Coming:Performing Agency for Refugeeness as an Non- Refugee Independent Theatre Collective's Body. Crisis, Migration, and Performance Symposium, National University of Ireland, Galway/Ireland

03/2016 – Die Toten Kommen: Theatrale Handlungsmacht und die performative Herstellung 'geflüchteter' Körper. Symposium Re/produktionsmaschine Kunst: Kategorisierungen des Körpers in den Darstellenden Künsten. Institute of Theatre Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz/Germany (forthcoming publication)

Conference Organisation

06/2016 – Annual Theatre, Film and Television Studies and CCPR Postgraduate Symposium, University of Glasgow, UK


Seminars (Theatre Studies, Glasgow University)

Level 1A – Reading the Stage

Level 1B – Theatre and Society

Lectures (Theatre Studies, Glasgow University)

Level 1A – Space and Place

Additional information

2016/2017 – Postgraduate Research Student Representative, School of Culture and Creative Arts/University of Glasgow