Playing Disability, Performing Gender: Militarised Masculinity and Disability Theatre in the Sri Lankan War and Its Aftermath
This chapter analyzes the nexus of disability, disablement and masculinity in the context of the twenty-six year Sri Lankan civil war and the disability theatre workshops of the Sunera Foundation in which disabled soldiers of the Sri Lanka army have continued to participate in after the war. It asks what specific characteristics constitute war related impairment and its impact on military men, and draws attention to how disabled soldiers negotiate their impairment in a specific Sri Lankan cultural and political context. It also explores the exceptionality of their participation in the theatre, opening themselves up to gender reversal, homoerotic sensuality and non-indigenous forms of aesthetic expression. By exploring aspects of masculinity and disability in a South Asian context, as well as issues of applied/devised theatre, its promise of transformation, and aesthetic criteria, the chapter brings together a range of conditions, discourses and practices that shape disability, gender, embodiment and performance in Sri Lanka today.
KeywordsMasculinity/ies Militarisation Impairment production Disability Performance Post-conflict De-militarisation Sri Lanka
My thanks to Karen Soldatic for many thoughtful comments and critical insights on an earlier version of this essay, and to the participants of the Cultural Studies Colloquium of the University of California at Santa Cruz for their responses to this chapter.
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