Re-embodying jurisprudence: using theatre and multimedia arts-based methods to support critical thinking, feeling and transformation in law




Dhaliwal, Manpreet (Preeti) Kaur

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This thesis offers theoretical and practical explorations of how multimedia arts-based methods and embodied storytelling support critical and transformative understandings of law. Using theatre as both subject and method, the author demonstrates how laws live in bodies, with a focus on race, whiteness, migration and the Komagata Maru. Drawing on various theatre practices as well as critical race, feminist and performance scholarship, the author calls for a new way of interacting with law: jurisprudential theatre. Jurisprudential theatre is a method that employs autobiography, utopian visioning, legal research and audience involvement to create plays that examine existing law while filling affective spaces that existing law neglects. This method builds an alternate archive that supplements existing laws but can also be used to study them. The author explains the method through a performance art piece titled Re-embodying. She then uses jurisprudential theatre to examine the legal history of the Komagata Maru through case law and two play texts, all of which lay the groundwork for the method’s application in the first draft of a play titled Eustitia. “Rather than laying my life and research out in a chronological, linear fashion with smooth transitions, this thesis blends scholarly, autobiographical, episodic and creative writing – sometimes abrupt, sometimes guided. This framework takes you on a journey to the Komagata Maru through my experiences and understandings of race, whiteness, law and trauma. This thesis asks you to bear witness while offering you life stories, performance art, the draft of a play, images and academic prose. I invite you to join me in a creative and performative process that will move you beyond the confines of the page to online worlds and internal realms. Why? To study and experience (as best we can in a text-based relationship) the internal and embodied consequences of law alongside its external, material and relational impacts.”



Critical Race Theory, Storytelling, Race, Theatre, Trauma, Whiteness, Komagata Maru, MV Sun Sea, Erasure, Performance Studies, Performance Art, Witness, Autobiography, Law, Legal History, White Supremacy, Critical race, Embodiment, Critical legal, migration, immigration law, Applied theatre, performance, repertoire, jurisprudence, legal imagination, Decolonization