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School of English and Drama

Dr Swati Arora, BA, MA, PhD, FHEA


Lecturer in Performance and Global South Studies

Office Hours: See QMplus


My work engages with the intersections of performance and visual culture, feminist theory, Black Studies, and dramaturgies of urban space in the global South. Across my research, writing and pedagogy, I am concerned with how different forms of performance and artistic production challenge colonial and imperial histories, epistemologies, and their corresponding debris.

Prior to joining Queen Mary, I worked as a lecturer at King’s College London. This followed Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships at the Centre for Humanities Research and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, UWC, South Africa, where I remain a Research Fellow. I co-convened the Performance in Public Spaces working group of the International Federation of Theatre Research (2011-13 and 2019-21). Currently, I am part of the editorial board of C21 Literature: Journal of 21st century Writings and the executive committee of Theatre and Performance Research Association, UK.


I tend to teach on the following modules:

  • Power Plays
  • Culture, Power, Performance
  • Performance and Visual Culture in South Asia
  • Race and Racism in Performance



Research Interests:

  • Performance and coloniality
  • Transnational feminisms
  • South Asian and diasporic performance cultures
  • Black and Indigenous geographies  


Recent and On-Going Research

I co-edited Pluriversal Conversations on Transnational Feminisms: And Words Collide from a Place (2023) with Nina Lykke, Redi Koobak, Petra Bakos, and Kharnita Mohamed. This volume brings transnational feminisms in conversation with intersectional and decolonial approaches. The central focus of the book is methodological―it explores how an engagement with transnational, intersectional, and decolonial feminisms can stimulate epistemological and disciplinary border-crossings. The conversation is pluriversal―it voices and reflects upon a plurality of geopolitical as well as epistemic locations in specific Global South/East/North/West contexts. Through creative and critical approaches, the writing explores themes like friendship, ongoing communion with the dead, transversal relations, embodied storytelling, and ethics of planetary sustainability. Supported by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT), this volume is the result of a collaboration with Linköping University, University of Bergen, Central European University, and the University of the Western Cape.  

My current project looks at the relationship between urban art and performance practices and public spaces in postcolonial Delhi. It explores how these aesthetic practices respond to the densely entangled processes of urbanisation, ecological crises, and sociopolitical environment, while navigating the dynamics of class, caste, gender, sexuality, and religion.

With colleagues at the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, UWC, South Africa, I am part of interdisciplinary projects on hydrofeminism and pedagogies of refusal. Some of this work has been published as an essay on ‘Performing Refusal’ in Injury and Intimacy (Manchester: MUP, 2022; Delhi: Zubaan, 2023; Cape Town: Karavan, 2023) and as ‘A manifesto to decentre theatre and performance studies’ (STP, 2021).

My research has been supported by the Mellon Foundation; UK-India Education and Research Initiative; European Commission’s Erasmus Mundus funding; German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); among others.  



Pluriversal Conversations on Transnational Feminisms: And Words Collide from a Place, with Nina Lykke, Redi Koobak, Petra Bakos and Kharnita Mohamed (eds.). London and New York: Routledge, 2023.



I welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any areas of my research, particularly from communities that are under-represented in academia.

Current students:

  • Prerana Kumar, ‘Ritual Fracture: Dismantling Patriarchal Hierarchies through Queer, Anti-caste, Ecofeminist Ritual Poetics’ — with Nisha Ramayya and Rehana Ahmed (LAHP funding).
  • Jordan/Martin Hell, ‘Black Deviations, Archival Speculations: Black Feminist Practice-led Research in 20th Century Literature and Performance’ — with Nisha Ramayya (QMPS funding).
  • Tobi Poster-Su, ‘Towards a Critical Puppetry: Racialisation and Material Performance’ — with Nicholas Ridout and Martin O’Brien (LAHP funding).


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