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Facing the Face of the Other: The Case of the Nia Centre

Cochrane, Claire (2016) Facing the Face of the Other: The Case of the Nia Centre. In: Theatre History and Historiography Ethics, Evidence and Truth. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 121-146. ISBN 978-1-137-45727, 1137457279

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Abstract

Until comparatively recently there has been little systematic effort to record the contribution to British theatre history of the diversity represented by Black British and British South and East Asian theatre makers. That failure to ‘see’ and acknowledge this lacuna within the academy reflected what in 2001 was condemned as widespread institutional racism within the theatre industry itself. The other ‘faces’ had been rendered effectively invisible. This chapter considers the ethical and evidential challenges associated with the task of recovering the history of a project created to enhance an important concept of cultural identity: the little-documented failure in the 1990s of the Nia Centre, the UK’s first black arts centre which opened in Hulme, Manchester in 1991. My exploration raises a number of key ethical challenges: How in the aftermath of the Nia’s collapse and in the almost complete absence of archival records, is the historian to mediate what inevitably are multiple truths coming from different perspectives? Whose, and what values were, and remain, at stake both at the time of the project itself, and in the telling of the history? How does the historian deal with failure especially if the circumstances were obscure and little regarded? The dream of the Nia died more than a decade ago, but the participants in that history are very much alive and their sensitivities have to be respected as part of the ethical challenge.

Item Type: Book Section
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Uncontrolled Keywords: Black theatre, ethics, history, historiography, empathy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
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Depositing User: Claire Cochrane
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2016 12:35
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2016 12:35
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/4639

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