Interweaving ethics and aesthetics: marriage migrants and theatre making in the Asian transnational space
ABSTRACT Working interculturally in the transnational space has become increasingly the norm for performance practitioners of the twenty-first century. Situating the concept of interweaving ethics and aesthetics in the context of ASEAN marriage migrant theatre in Taiwan, this paper examines how theatre making can initiate the inscription of agency and the transformation of hegemonic social structures. Since the 1980s, the rise of global capitalism gave rise to the Taiwanese financial sub-empire and the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of “foreign brides.” Founded in 2009, TransAsia Sisters Association Taiwan Theatre (TASAT Theatre) has been at the forefront of advocating for ASEAN marriage migrants. In narrating their migratory journey through bodies and voices, ASEAN marriage migrants insist on self-narration and interpretation. Through the framework of minor transnationalism, I outline the ethics of wound and the aesthetics of protest as essential paradigms of TASAT Theatre’s creative endeavor. The former is inspired by the traumatic experience underwent by the female subject in marriage migration. The latter concerns the artistic expression of her discontent. To ultimately achieve the aesthetics of ethics, the act of interweaving needs to be accomplished through a simultaneous management of practical and strategic gender needs in the creative process, as well as subjectivation that allows for active forms of participation in citizenship. When ASEAN marriage migrants translate their traumatic experience into cognitive and emotive sharp turns in the audience through theatre, they begin to claim a positionality of their own in the geo-historical narrative of Taiwan.
Keywords: Intercultural performance, ethics, aesthetics, foreign bride, female migration, Taiwan, ASEAN, subjectivation, transnationalism
Notes on contributor
Peilin Liang is an assistant professor of theatre studies at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests include (post)coloniality, minor transnationalism, cultural diversity and cross-cultural exchange in relation to theatrical representation and performance.