Dr. Jeff Gagnon's dissertation, "Tactical Dramaturgies: Media, the State, and the Performance of Place-Based Activism," is the winner of the Alumni Dissertation Award, 2020–2021. This award was established to celebrate the best dissertation completed by a PhD candidate at the Centre in an academic year.
Jeff's doctoral supervisor was Professor Barry Freeman, and his committee members were Professors Antje Budde and Kanishka Goonewardena.
We would like to thank the selection committee, comprised of Professors Jill Carter and Elliot Leffler, who made the following comment about Jeff's dissertation:
Jeff Gagnon’s "Tactical Dramaturgies: Media, the State, and the Performance of Place-Based Activism" leverages theoretical frames from the fields of Theatre and Performance Studies to elucidate the work of activists challenging oppressive policies and pervasive hegemonies. In this multi-sited study, the analysis criss-crosses the Western Hemisphere, attending to the work of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Chiapas, Mexico), Bawating Water Protectors (Ontario, Canada), and Ogichidaakwe Spence (Ontario, Canada). Jeff’s robust investigation of their methods weaves together threads from Canadian scholar of Indigenous studies Glen Coulthard, Italian feminist political philosopher Adriana Cavarero, French philosophers Henri Lefebvre and Louis Althusser, and German theatre-maker Bertolt Brecht – a disciplinary fusion with the potential to advance the thinking of multiple academic fields by bringing them into conversation with one another, with the work of activists on the ground, and with our own fields of Theatre and Performance Studies. The dissertation reveals how the work of these activists constitutes performances which “enact the tensions between margins and centres, ephemerality and materiality, [and] localism and international solidarity” in order to unmask “the precarity of those ideologies and mechanisms of oppressive power.” The astute analysis is high-stakes, theoretically bold, intellectually rigorous, and timely.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jeff Gagnon and his committee members on his outstanding achievement!