WAR AS PERFORMANCE: Conflicts in Iraq and Political Theatricality

War as Performance: Conflict in Iraq and Political Theatricality. 2018. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

This book examines performance in the context of the 2003 Iraq War and subsequent conflicts with Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State. Working within a theater and performance studies lens, it analyzes adaptations of Greek tragedy, documentary theater, political performances by the Bush administration, protest performances, satiric news television programs, and post-apocalyptic narratives in popular culture. Mantoan, War as Performance coverBy considering performance across genre and media, War as Performance offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of culture, warfare, and militarization, and argues that spectacular and banal aesthetics of contemporary war positions performance as a practice struggling to distance itself from appropriation by the military for violent ends. Contemporary warfare has infiltrated our narratives to such an extent that it holds performance hostage. As lines between the military and performance weaken, this book analyzes how performance responds to and potentially shapes war and conflict in the new century.

Hadeel Abdelhameed’s review of the book in Theatre Research International 45:3 states:

“Given the paucity of anglophone scholarship about Iraqi theatre, War as Performance is a significant contribution to the discipline of theatre studies that provides an outline of Iraqi theatre post-2003 (particularly in chapter 4). It joins a considerable body of literature published by US scholars and the coalition nations that attempt to understand how they should (or could) have responded to the violence in the Iraq War committed in their names.”

Michael Shane Boyle’s review in TDR 243 states: “Mantoan’s approach stands out for the attention she pays both to plays that engage Iraqi experience and to the fate of Iraqi theatre itself. Her performance analysis is especially attuned to the gendered consequences of the war and how ram- pant sexual assault within the US military made a mockery of the already dubious claim that the Coalition of the Willing sought to “liberate” women in Iraq.”

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