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The sexy maid in Indonesian migrant workers' activist theatre: subalternity, performance and witnessing

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Abstract:

The performances of Indonesian domestic workers in protests against the 2005 ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization included improvisatory dramas by an ad hoc theatre group of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union which countered the experiences of servitude and objectification that were common to those workers. This article explores our responsibility as intercultural critics in receiving and interpreting these theatrical performances in terms of witnessing. Drawing on the double meaning of witnessing eyewitness testimony and bearing witness it discusses our responsibility to simultaneously affirm the dramas as testimony to the enactment of an enabling subject position to refigure experiences of objectification, and bear witness to the subaltern silences underlying the articulation. The ethical issues of the intercultural critic as witness are examined in the latter parts of the article.

Keywords: agitprop; employment; interculturalism; servitude; subalternity; testimony; trade unions; witnessing

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/peet.1.1.21_1

Affiliations: The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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  • Performing Ethos is a refereed, interdisciplinary journal which considers ethical questions relating to contemporary theatre and live performance. Global in scope, it provides a unique forum for rigorous scholarship and serious reflection on the ethical dimensions of a wide range of performance practices from the politically and aesthetically radical to the mainstream.
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