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Dr Royona Mitra
Associate Dean / Professor - Dance and Performance Cultures

Gaskell Building 110

Research area(s)

Interculturalism and Performance Practices

Critical Race Theory and Performance Practices

Postcolonial Studies, Decolonialities and Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies

Dance and Diaspora-Politics

Contemporary South Asian Dance Practices

Research Interests

Royona's research addresses intersectionalities between bodies, new interculturalisms, race, gender, postcolonialities and decolonialities, and she contributes to the fields of intercultural performance, diaspora and dance, contemporary South Asian dance and physical theatre/dance theatre. 

Her first monograph Akram Khan: Dancing New Interculturalism analyses the relationship between this British-Asian dance artist's complex identity-positions and his art through the lens of ‘new interculturalism’. Through seven key case studies from Khan’s oeuvre, this book demonstrates how Khan’s philosophy and aesthetic of ‘new interculturalism’ is a challenge to the 1980s predominantly western ‘intercultural theatre’ project, as a more nuanced and embodied approach to representing Othernesses, from his own position of the Other. Additionally, the book challenges popular perception of Khan’s art as contemporary South Asian dance by suggesting that, instead, Khan uses South Asian dramaturgical principles to transform the western contemporary dance landscape in intercultural ways. Offering the first full-length investigation of Akram Khan’s work, this book is essential reading for students, researchers, practitioners and fans of Khan’s work.

Her current book project titled Unmaking Contact: Choreographing South Asian Touch contracted with Oxford University Press interrogates the politics of choreographing touch at the intersections of race, gender, caste, sexuality, new interculturalisms and decoloniaity, in order to reframe choreographic touch, a ubiquitous feature of contemporary choreographies.

She completed a British Academy Small Grant funded project titled ‘Contemporary Dance and Whiteness' alongside Drs Simon Ellis (Coventry) and Arabella Stanger (Sussex) in 2019. The project’s aim was to examine race and racism in British contemporary dance and to critique whiteness as part of a commitment to the field’s anti-racist futures. The project examines whiteness as a structure of racism that exists in the relationships between personal prejudice, cultural norms, and the lived conditions of inequality and racial violence. 

Working in coalition with UK and US colleagues from across theatre and dance studies, Royona has been leading conversations on anti-racism for these disciplines as a scholar and an educator, with a strong commiment  to dismantling their whiteness.