Stockholm University, Sweden
Bio: A former fire fighter, now a Theatre Studies PhD candidate, currently stressed out by trying to finish his dissertation on the experience of bodies on stage in circus, burlesque and freak shows. His primary academic interests include popular culture, bodies and body culture, masculinity, phenomenology and the uncanny.
Title: A Culturally Appropriate (Re)Presentation of the “Other”? Creating Images of Us and Them in Cirkus Cirkör’s Trilogy on Migration
Abstract: Circus has a tradition of mixing nationalities and cultural expressions, celebrating diversity in both acts and aesthetics. However, are these representations of cultures always appropriate, and how are these representations perceived by the audience? Cirkus Cirkör’s trilogy – Borders (2015), Limits (2016), and Movement (2017) – uses circus to engage and inform the audience about the ongoing migration crisis in the world, relating it to darker times of our history, showing that borders and limits are human constructions and that another world is possible. However, the (re)presentations of the “other” in the shows are far from unproblematic and raise some concerns. Who is this “other” and, moreover, who has the right to represent the “other’s” voice? I will discuss the images of the “other” in the shows as well as their authenticity and what the stagings might say about a “western”, i.e. privileged, understanding of the “other” in relation to the concept of cultural appropriation. While Cirkör attempts to question borders and show that we are all equal, (re)constructions of the “other” are still present; in fact, Cirkör’s commendable aims may well be counterproductive as the individual shows enforce an us and them relationship rather than challenging it. In short, this potential appropriation of culture is perhaps far from appropriate.