Circus-Polis: Politics, Community, Animality and Contemporary Circus brings contemporary circus practitioners and performances in conversation with political and critical theory. The dissertation focuses on three particular issues concerning the politics and polis of the circus: how the discourse of circus is entwined with the discourse of danger and risk; how circus relates to the notion of animality; and, how circus conjures different, often opposing visions, of community. Expanding on Hannah Arendt’s understanding of polis as a space of interaction that fosters plurality and togetherness, Circus-Polis addresses circus as a space of interaction between actors creating, shaping, and caring for a shared world. At the same time, the dissertation sets out to expand a strict anthropocentric comprehension of politics, by addressing the agency of the nonhuman in contemporary circus performances and practices. Circus-Polis perceives circus as a space of appearance and about appearance, while addressing the danger of stratification and solidification, that is the reduction of circus by turning it into a particular body regime that denies political appearance. Hence, the dissertation aims to address interrelations and tensions evoked by notions such as circus, polis, community, and, of course, politics. Yet, it is precisely these tensions that allows contemporary circus to be understood as a complex, multifaceted object of study.
Analyzed performances and practices: Odysseo (Cavalia)
Bestias (Baro D’Evel)
Pie-ing (throwing a pie in the face of a political opponent)
Traversée (Cie Basinga)
Centipede (practice score on the tight wire)
Attraction (Johann Le Guillerm)