Welcome to the new Anthem Press website, currently in BETA mode. The fully functional and updated site will be live soon!

Performing Noncitizenship

Performing Noncitizenship

Asylum Seekers in Australian Theatre, Film and Activism

By Emma Cox

This exacting study examines the role that theatre, film and activism responsive to asylum seekers has played in the emergence of ‘irregular’ noncitizenship as a cornerstone idea in contemporary Australian political and social life.

Paperback, 202 Pages


January 2015

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents

About This Book

This exacting study makes the case that a diverse range of theatre, film and activism engaged in the portrayal or participation of asylum seekers and refugees since 2001 has been informed by and contributed to the consolidation of ‘irregular’ noncitizenship as a cornerstone idea in contemporary Australian political and social life. This idea has been reified as a direct consequence of the asylum seeker–related public discourse that has been prominent in twenty-first century Australia, to the extent that it has become impossible to imagine what Australia means without it. ‘Performing Noncitizenship’ is the first book-length study of its kind to focus on Australia’s urgent and fraught asylum politics, and its implications extend beyond one country’s problems. To date, there has been little attention paid to theatre and performance’s implicatedness in how irregular noncitizenship has been taken up in Western neoliberal democracies as a core diagnosis for the ills of a precarious social and economic status quo. This study is unique among studies of asylum seeker and refugee representation in theatre, film and activism in its interest in the ways representations of asylum seekers are informed by and inform identity politics among citizens. The book’s purpose is to identify and illuminate the increasing leverage of noncitizenship as a marker of twenty-first century human illegitimacy.


‘A welcomed addition to the growing field of theatre studies in exile, mass migration, and activism, this book offers a telling reading of today’s Australia. It is a society and a culture shaped anew in the emerging public debate on the strategies of survival, culture and artistic output of the country’s noncitizens.’ —Yana Meerzon, University of Ottawa

‘Examining the radical political and ethical possibilities that arise when refugees in Australia perform their exclusion from the political norm, Emma Cox goes beyond accounts of exclusion to trace how refugee theatre may offer the beginnings of new political forms that question the restriction of political speech and political action to citizens.’ —Prem Kumar Rajaram, Central European University, Budapest

‘This book offers a vital new perspective on the legal, social and affective interactions between Australian citizens and asylum seekers. Emma Cox’s rigorous analysis of activism and performance in the context of asylum has implications for all refugee-receiving countries.’ —Agnes Woolley, Royal Holloway, University of London

‘A thought-provoking and timely study of Australian asylum issues. The central concept of “noncitizenship” introduces an innovative theoretical framework that inspires application beyond the book’s immediate case studies. This is an excellent and important contribution to performance and asylum scholarship.’ —Silvija Jestrovic, University of Warwick

Author Information

Emma Cox is a Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London.


Anthem Australian Humanities Research Series

Table of Contents

Introduction: Framing Noncitizenship; 1. The Politics of Innocence in Theatres of Reality; 2. Domestic Comedy and Theatrical Heterotopias; 3. Territories of Contact in Documentary Film; 4. The Pain of Others: Performance, Protest and Instrumental Self-Injury; 5. Welcome to Country? Aboriginal Activism and Ontologies of Sovereignty; Conclusion: A Global Politics of Noncitizenship; Notes; Bibliography; Index

Latest Tweets

Comodo SSL