Indigeneity in the Contemporary World: Performance, Politics, Belonging

Staff Profiles

Helen Gilbert was educated in Australia and Canada before taking up her current position as Professor of Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a world-leading scholar in postcolonial performance studies and has published widely on issues relating to indigeneity, activism, cultural identity, nationalism, and the politics and aesthetics of cross-cultural engagement in western and non-western contexts. As Principal Investigator for the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project, Helen edited a special issue of Interventions and co-edited two books, Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas (2014) and In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization (forthcoming). She also curated EcoCentrix, a major international exhibition, in both live and digital versions, and co-directed several short documentary videos. Her project research has fed into a monograph exploring the impact of globalization on indigenous arts, and how embodiment informs links between place, mobility and belonging. Helen’s earlier publications include Performance and Cosmopolitics: Cross-cultural Transactions in Australasia (with Jacqueline Lo, 2007), Sightlines: Race, Gender and Nation in Contemporary Australian Theatre (1998) and Post-colonial Drama: Theory, Practice, Politics (with Joanne Tompkins, 1996). She also co-authored Wild Man of Borneo: A Cultural History of the Orangutan (with Robert Cribb and Helen Tiffin, 2014).


Dani Phillipson was Research Associate for the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project throughout its duration and played a central role in managing day-to-day activities and delivering collaborative outputs. She has a background in theatre and film production, holds an MA from Oxford, and is in the process of completing her PhD. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Regina, Canada, and undertook research there on the historical development and transmission of theatrical celebrity. Her current research explores ways in which particular forms of indigeneity are emerging as distinct global brands while simultaneously becoming part of a new mainstream. As well as taking on the roles of Assistant Curator and Co-designer of the EcoCentrix exhibition, Dani published in Unesco e-Journal and is co-editor of In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization (forthcoming).


Estelle Castro completed her PhD on contemporary Aboriginal Literature at the Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris III and the University of Queensland in 2007. Her research has sought to examine how indigenous poetic, political, spiritual and axiological concerns are negotiated in literary and socio-political fields and reconfigured through performances. Estelle worked on the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project as a Postdoctoral Research Associate from 2009–2013, examining the circulation and reception of recent performances by Aboriginal and Pacific artists in contemporary festivals and cultural events in France and Britain. She co-convened a symposium in Paris in 2011 on reconciliation and social cohesion and published articles about festivals in France as sites of political production.

Caroline Cornish has worked as a museum practitioner and holds a PhD in Human Geography from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research interests include museums and collections, museum history, imperial networks and histories of science. She has published in a number of journals, including the Journal of Museum Ethnography and the Museum History Journal, and is now working on a monograph. She was recently a contributor to the BBC Radio 4 series Plants: From Roots to Riches. For the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project, which she joined in 2014, Caroline conducted research on the history of indigenous peoples in London as well as assisting with the curation of the EcoCentrix Online exhibition. She currently works as a Research Assistant in the Geography Department at Royal Holloway.

After an MA in world cinema, Charlotte Gleghorn obtained a doctorate from the University of Liverpool in 2009, on women’s filmmaking in Argentina and Brazil. She worked as Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project from 2009–13, developing a book project that explores auteurship, authority and cultural memory in contemporary Latin American indigenous video and filmmaking. Charlotte co-curated the film programme for the EcoCentrix exhibition, published journal articles on Colombian and Mexican Indigenous film and video, and co-convened a symposium leading to the edited book, Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas (2014). She now holds a Chancellor’s Fellowship in Hispanic Studies at the University of Edinburgh.


Rose Harriman worked as Arts Administrative Assistant for the strand of the Indigeneity project focused on developing resources for intercultural dialogues, funded by an ERC Proof of Concept grant from 2013–14. She dealt mainly with the EcoCentrix exhibition, particularly to support the development of its interactive platform, and facilitated artists’ visits and residencies. Previously, Rose worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company as a manager for its experimental studio projects. Her interests lie in both the dramaturgical and the practical elements of a script’s transition from text into spoken word performance, and the diversity of interpretive voices that affect this. She has a BA (Hons) in English from Royal Holloway, University of London, and is currently doing freelance theatre production work in Melbourne, Australia.


Sergio Miguel Huarcaya holds a BA in Film and TV Production, an MA in Latin American Studies and a PhD in Anthropology and History. From 1998 to 2001, he collaborated with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) as a video producer and instructor, winning the Rigoberta Menchú prize for his work. As a post-doctoral researcher on the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project from 2011–14, his research focused on the ways in which indigenous performance in festivities and social protest has transformed notions of indigeneity in the Andes. As well as making several video documentaries, he published essays in Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History and Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas. Sergio now works as Professor in the Department of Historical and Social Sciences at Universidad del Pacifico, Peru.


After completing a doctorate at the Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University in 2011, Mãori scholar Rebecca Kiddle joined the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project for 7 months to undertake a pilot project aimed at developing principles of M?ori urban design through the analysis of performance. Her fieldwork involved participatory research with Ng?ti R?nana London M?ori Club, a group established in the 1970s to promote the indigenous culture of Aotearoa/New Zealand in Britain and Europe. As well as producing a report from her research, Becky advised on EcoCentrix in its early planning stages. She went on to work at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China and has recently taken up a position at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.


Genner Llanes-Ortiz is a Yucatec Maya scholar with a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Sussex. A former IFP-Ford Foundation Fellow, he worked as a Research Associate on the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project from 2011–13, investigating the strategic transformation of ritual and performance as part of political mobilisation in Maya communities in the Yucatan and Belize. As well as contributing to the EcoCentrix exhibition as a cultural advisor and curatorial assistant, he developed essay and video contributions for Resistant Strategies, an e-book edited by Diana Taylor (2015), and published articles in Revista Trace and Recasting Commodity and Spectacle in the Indigenous Americas. Genner now works as a Postdoctoral Fellow at CIESAS: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Anthropología Social, Mexico City.


Arifani Moyo completed his MA in Drama and Performance Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in 2009 and joined the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project as a PhD candidate in 2011. His doctoral thesis focuses on indigeneity in the theatre of post-apartheid South Africa and is informed equally by current scholarship and his own varied intercultural experiences as a performer and theatre maker. Arifani’s research interests include African postmodern and postcolonial philosophies, and, more generally, performance praxis as related to cultural, social and political engagement. He is currently in Zimbabwe awaiting his PhD viva and preparing an essay on African musical theatre for In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization.


Emer O’Toole was a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the Indigeneity project from 2012–2013, after finishing her PhD at Royal Holloway. As well as helping to secure Proof of Concept funding for artists’ residencies and interactive elements of the project exhibition, she completed research on intercultural indigenous adaptations of Shakespeare. She has published journal articles on theoretical aspects of intercultural theatre praxis in Target: International Journal of Translation Studies and The Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance. Emer is interested in the ways in which economics, politics, history, race, gender and class inform contemporary cultural production. She now holds a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in Irish Cultural Studies at Concordia University, Montreal.


Melissa Poll joined the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World Project as a Research Associate in 2013 while completing her PhD in Theatre Studies at Royal Holloway. Her contributions to the project include research on the performativity of First Nations protests against Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Games, and work as an artist liaison. Melissa holds an MA from the University of British Columbia and has worked as a professional actor, adjunct professor, freelance theatre critic and dramaturg. Her publications include essays in Body, Space & Technology Journal, Canadian Theatre Review, Theatre Research in Canada and a forthcoming book on adaptation. Melissa is currently preparing a new project on intercultural performance involving First Nations communities in Canada and the USA. She will take up a part-time position teaching theatre at Kansas State University in August 2015.


After completing a doctorate at the University of Sussex in 2009, Dylan Robinson (Stó:lõ) held positions as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley. His research for the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project from 2011–13 included work on a monograph about the politics and aesthetics of indigenous art music in North America and a collaborative project dealing with the role of the arts in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. Dylan is co-editor of Opera Indigene (2011) and Arts of Engagement (2015) and has published essays in MUSICultures, Canadian Theatre Review, Aboriginal Music in Contemporary Canada and Theatres of Affect. He is currently Assistant Professor in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University in Canada.

  To assist with data gathering in various regions, the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project also employed remote research assistants on an ad-hoc basis: James Ellison and Keren Zaiontz (Canada), Dione Joseph (Aotearoa/New Zealand), Amanda Lynch (Australia), Michelle Nicholson-Sanz (Peru) and Eugénie Pastor (France). Sally O’Gorman assisted with UK-based project activities.
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