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‘Concealment of What is Closed’: Western Necrocivilization in David Greig’s Version of Aeschylus’s The Suppliant Women

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 February 2022


UK crises of hospitality, feminism, and democracy are as acute as ever despite ostensible commitment to the values that foster them. This article examines David Greig’s 2016 Edinburgh version of Aeschylus’s Suppliants as it attempts to expand spaces of democracy into the theatre, and investigates the foundations of democratic institutions. Drawing on Achille Mbembe’s formulation of necropolitics and Elaine Scarry’s theorization of civilization, it highlights necrocivilizational elements in the production’s premise and reception. It argues that Greig’s presentation of Aeschylus’s play presents a more complex engagement with western democracy, asylum, theatre, and civilization than commentators have acknowledged. Rather than primarily opening up new spaces of negotiation among asylum-seekers and citizens in the community, The Suppliant Women foregrounds the exclusionary discursive tactics operating under the auspices of civilization that leave the logics underpinning the UK’s asylum policy largely untroubled. Sarah Stewart is an independent researcher whose work centres on the relationships forged between asylum-seekers, members of the theatre establishment, and citizen communities within and beyond the performance space. She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press 2022

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