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Emily Beausoleil
Liu Scholar; PhD Candidate, Political Science

Thesis: “Performing Democracy: Artistic Engagements with Identity/Difference”

Fascinated by the intersections of aesthetics, the body, and politics, my research investigates the dynamics, challenges, and effects of artistic performance when it is used as a form of democratic practice. Engaging democratic, postcolonial, and performance theory as well as examining three cases of dance and theatre both locally and abroad, this project seeks to develop a language with which to legitimize, interpret and evaluate artistic practices that have been largely overlooked within political theory. In doing so, I hope to not only shed light on the political work performed worldwide within these artistic sites and the insights such practices have for more conventional approaches to identity/difference politics, but also provide concrete recommendations for enhancing the impact of politically-engaged arts practitioners in the field.

Research Interests:

Contemporary Political Theory
History of Political Thought
Arts and Public Policy
Dance and Performance Theory
Democratic Theory
Politics of Identity and Difference
Multicultural Theory and Literature
Critical Race and Postcolonial Theory
Somatic Theory and Neuroscience

Academic Awards:

  • SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2012-14)
  • Canada Graduate Scholarship Recipient (2006-09)
  • Special UBC Graduate Scholarship (2005-06)
  • SSHRC Graduate Fellowship (2004-05)
  • Senate Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement (Carleton University, 2001)
  • Graduated with Highest Honours (Carleton University, 2001)
  • Chancellor Scholarship (One of eight per year; Carleton’s most prestigious award; 1997-2001)
  • Dean’s Honours List (Carleton University; 1997-2001)

Research Experience:

  • Research Assistant for Dance and Conflict Transformation Project (Michelle LeBaron, Faculty of Law, UBC)
    International, multi-year project that researches dancers’ expertise concerning physical movement, expression and interpersonal dynamics, and assists in its application among leading conflict resolution practitioners in high-tension, high-stakes conflict scenarios.
  • Program and Curriculum Design for International Centre of Art for Social Change (affiliated with SFU and Judith Marcuse Projects)
    Founding co-designer of ICASC program, diploma, and course structure and content; program to provide theoretical and practical tools necessary for ethical and effective application of arts practice in social justice projects (2007-present).
  • Research Assistant for Dr. Mark Warren (UBC)
    Research, taxonomy, and evaluation of democratic processes practiced worldwide; development of middle-level democratic theory that relates design features of political institutions to practical restrictions and normative goals; and the design of a public research tool to aid in the selection of suitable democratic processes (2006-present).
  • Research Assistant for Dr. Barbara Arneil (UBC)
    Research, documentation, and analysis on projects concerning (i) mental illness and its treatment and place in contemporary political notions of citizenship, and (ii) recent backlash against multiculturalism in Europe (2005, 2006).
  • Research Assistant for Dr. Peter Emberley (Northern India)
    Working in partnership with Dr. Emberley in rural West Bengal and independently throughout Rajasthan, I examined the nature and extent of globalization’s impact upon the traditional artistic and religious practices of various communities (2001-02).
  • CIDA Intern
    Asha Nivas Women’s Empowerment NGO (Chennai, India)
    Research and presentation, in lecture and workshop formats, on various health, employment and development issues both within the organization and in various slum communities (2001-02).
  • Intern at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, Canada)
    Research and construction of online art museum encyclopedia (AMICO) (2001).

Conference Presentations:

  • The Movements of Attention: Politics, Receptivity, Affect.
    Crossroads in Cultural Studies Annual Conference. Sorbonne, Paris, France. July 2-6, 2012. Panel organizer and presenter.

  • Political Aesthetics and Democracy. Invited Discussant.
    American Political Science Association Annual Conference. Seattle, WA. Sept 1-4, 2011.

  • Performing Democratic Engagement: The Case of South African Anti-Apartheid Theatre.
    American Political Science Association Annual Conference. Boston, MA. (September 2-5, 2010).

  • The Art of Translation: Legislative Theatre and its Implications for Democratic Theory.
    American Political Science Association Annual Conference. Boston, MA. (September 2-5, 2010).
  • Artistic Performance as Political Resistance: The Case of South African Protest Theatre.
    Invited panelist. European Consortium of Political Research General Conference. Potsdam, Germany. (Sept 10-12, 2009).
  • Performance Art as Post-Colonial Politics: Potentials and Challenges.
    Invited panelist. International Political Science Association World Congress. Santiago, Chile. (July 12-15, 2009).
  • The Dove-Tailing of Multicultural and Arts Policy: A Sedative or Transformative Politics?
    Western Political Science Association Annual Conference. Vancouver, BC, Canada. (March 19-21, 2009).
  • Invited Discussant: “Public Art and the Commonality of Public Interests.”
    Art, Praxis, and Social Transformation: Radical Philosophy Association Eighth Biennial Conference. San Francisco, California, USA. (Nov 6-9 2008).
  • Artistic Performance as Effective Resistance: The Failed Case of the Couple in the Cage.
    Transnationalism, Activism, and Art Interdisciplinary Conference. Ryerson University, Toronto, Ont., Canada. (March 8-11, 2007).
  • The Art of Intercultural Performance: Challenges, Negotiations, and Implications for Identity Politics.
    American Political Science Association Annual Conference. Chicago, Ill., USA. (August 29-September 2, 2007).
  • Opening the Cage: The Political Implications of the Performative Arts for Intercultural Dialogue.
    Deconstructing Empire: Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference. University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. (June 22, 2006).
  • Speaking without Words: An Examination of Intercultural Dance Collaboration as a Form of Intercultural Communication.
    One Vision, Many Voices: Cross-Culture/Anti-Racism Education Conference. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (November 17-19, 2005).
  • ‘Ain’t it Beautiful Being Crazy?’: The Interrelation of Jazz Improvisation and Self-Destruction.
    Inscriptions ’05: Eighth International Literature and Humanities Conference. Eastern Mediterranean University; Famagusta, Northern Cyprus. (May 12-13, 2005).
  • ‘In This Country…’: Hegelian Dialectics Fall Short in the Context of South Africa.
    Post-Colonial Literature and Theory Graduate Symposium. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (April 2004).


Book Chapter

“The Art of Translation: Limits and Possibilities for Policy-Making Theatre.” In The Aesthetic Turn in Political Theory. Ed. Nikos Kompridis. London and New York: Continuum 2012 (forthcoming).

“(En)Acting Protest: Theatre as Democratic Practice in Apartheid South Africa.” Doing Democracy: Activist Art and Cultural Politics. Ed. Nancy Love and Mark Mattern. New York: Routledge 2012 (forthcoming).

“Coming to Our Senses: Implications of Recent Neuroscience for Conflict Transformation Approaches." Dancing at the Crossroads: Transforming Conflict Through Movement. Ed. Michelle LeBaron and  Carrie MacLeod. Chicago: American Bar Association, 2012 (forthcoming).

“‘But What if the Object Began to Speak?’: Dialogical Potential Within erformance Consumption and Its Implications for Deliberative Democracy.” In Dialogics of Cultural Encounters. Ed. Sura P. Rath. Delhi: Pencraft International, 2006.

Peer Reviewed Journal Article

“‘Only They Breathe’: Gender, Agency and the Dancing Body Politic.” Constellations, 2012 (forthcoming).

Current Volunteer Activities:

  • Secretary of the Board of Directors (Judith Marcuse Projects and International Centre of Art for Social Change; 2007-present; member of the Board since 2005)
    JMP is multidisciplinary arts not-for-profit organization dedicated to arts for social justice; ICASC is a training and research centre for socially-focused arts practitioners.
  • Secretary of the Board of Directors (Pivot Foundation; 2009-present)
    The Pivot Foundation is a branch of Pivot Legal Society, a non-profit organization that uses legal aid, representation, and acclaimed research to assist and advocate for various marginalized communities in Canada. The Foundation works to broaden and deepen the social impact and awareness of Pivot’s work.
  • PhD Student Representative for Graduate Programme Committee. (Political Science, UBC; 2009-10)
  • Event coordinator for Pivot Legal Society (2009-present)
    Core coordinator for Justice Rocks, Pivot’s annual music for social justice festival; Stage-manager for Passion for Justice, Pivot’s annual fundraiser.
  • Creator of Ugandan Student Sponsorship Program (2007-present)
    This program pairs Canadian women with girls in Uganda orphaned by AIDS for secondary school sponsorship.


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