Performing belonging: meeting on and in the earth

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Berger, Karen (2013) Performing belonging: meeting on and in the earth. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


This Masters by Research project involves two ways of meeting that explore, in complimentary ways, the question of belonging. It comprises this exegesis and a performance at a spot near where I’ve lived for 15 years, on the banks of the Merri Creek in Melbourne. This spot is where John Batman probably met with Wurundjeri elders on June 6th 1835, with the aim of negotiating a treaty for the buying of 500,000 acres of their land. When I walk along the Merri Creek I feel that it is in some way ‘mine’, but know that this is only the case because the original inhabitants were violently prevented from maintaining their traditional lives here. For contemporary Aboriginal people, Australia can be felt as ‘theirs’ and ‘not theirs’; and many immigrant Australians who now ‘belong’ here were, either themselves or their ancestors, violently moved off their own homelands. It could be argued that Australians’ relationship to the land is paradoxical. I am interested in what theatre, specifically site-­‐specific theatre, can do to address the issue of belonging. Neil Leach describes belonging as inherently performative.1 Assuming that the personal, social, historical and spatial are inseparable and interdependent, I have chosen a site that is particularly evocative of my (and hopefully other Australians too), exploration of connection to this country.

Additional Information

Master of Arts

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Historical > FOR Classification > 2204 Religion and Religious Traditions
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords performance, theatre, belonging, cemetaries, gravestones, graves, artwork, sculpture, Batman's treaty, John Batman, settlement, treaties, Wurundjeri tribe, Wauthaurong tribe, Indigenous peoples, Aboriginal peoples, Elders, history, Karen Berger, autobiography, family, Hebrew language, Judaism, religion, Jewish, bible, biblical texts, Holocaust, Lithuania, Melbourne, Victoria
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