Theatres of difference: the politics of 'redistribution' and 'recognition'in the plays of contemporary Black and Asian Playwrights

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Since the 1990s, there has been an extended debate among feminists and left-wing thinkers concerned with notions of justice and equality about the relationship between 'redistribution' and 'recognition' in contemporary politics. In this article, I examine the ways in which the issues of redistribution of resources and recognition are articulated in plays by contemporary Black and Asian women playwrights such as Rukhsana Ahmad, Tanika Gupta, Winsome Pinnock, and Zindika. I shall suggest that their theatre work, and experience of working in the theatre, produce a dynamic and interdependent model of the relation between redistribution and recognition that ultimately suggests the need for recognition as the continuing primary concern of Black and Asian communities in Britain. This is evident in the plays' contents, the theatrical forms employed by Black and Asian women playwrights (often naturalistic and issue-based), and the funding and theatre policies with which they engage. These, as I shall argue, produce tensions between the collective identities which they hail, for instance, through the appellation 'Black playwright', and the individual identities the playwrights seek to assert, requiring negotiations between the empowering as well as constraining demands of collective identities and the post-'cultural diversity' aspirations of long-term theatre politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-28
Number of pages18
JournalFeminist Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006

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