Ella Parry-Davies

Ella Parry-Davies

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Research interests

My dissertation examines the relationships between performance, place and memory in contrasting postcolonial, multi-ethnic and intensely migratory capitals: Singapore and Beirut. In both places, the year 1990 marked the end of a period of national emergency: it saw the cessation of a fifteen year civil war in Lebanon, and (at the opposite extreme of the Asian continent) the resignation of Lee Kuan Yew after thirty-one years as independent Singapore’s first Prime Minister, a powerful symbol of closure on a period of urgent postcolonial nation building.

Twenty-five years later, the stakes of remembering these pre-1990 periods are heightened. An immense influx of regional refugees in Lebanon has provoked renewed memories of the civil war in Beirut’s public spaces. In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew’s death in March 2015 occasioned the reinscribing of politicised national historiographies concerned with creating a sense of ‘home’ in an inherently migratory city-state. In each city, I assess the ways in which performance represents, mediates and intervenes in urban space and its shaping of collective remembrance. I do so, however, from the perspective of a generation – my contemporaries – who are too young to remember the pre-1990 era first-hand, yet who are now coming of age as performance makers, artists and activists in cities indelibly marked by the past.

This exploration motivates, and is in turn supported by, an original analytic methodology that theorises urban environments as “ecologies of remembrance”. In addition to offering an unprecedented comparative study of Singapore and Beirut, the dissertation develops a methodology for examining the relationships between memory and mobility that will be useful to a field facing growing concerns around migratory and refugee populations.

Biographical details

My doctoral research is funded by a joint partnership between King's College London and the National University of Singapore, and my time has been divided between these institutions. I am supervised by Dr Kélina Gotman (KCL) and Dr David Teh (NUS), previously Dr Paul Rae.

Alongside my thesis project, I have been involved in a number of projects which have in common a concern with the ethics and politics of academic research, particularly outside of higher education. I am co-founder of After Performance, a research collective looking at post-2008 critical praxis and the contemporary problematics of 'performance studies' as such. I am co-convenor of Research with Reach, a training initiative which aims to support emerging academics in thinking through the scope of a public research practice beyond the outlets of academia. Through this project, I co-founded and edited the Department of English & Comparative Literature impact blog, King's English. I co-convened Beirut: Bodies in Public, a three-day workshop which took place in Beirut in October 2014, and faciliated a number of performances in public spaces in the city, as well as conference seminars at the American University of Beirut. In 2016, I was awarded the Dwight Conquergood Award at the 'Performance Studies international' conference 'Performance Climates' at the University of Melbourne.

I have taught across theatre studies, comaprative literature and liberal arts at King's, the University of Roehampton and the National University of Singapore.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Performance and Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Goldsmiths, University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2012

Bachelor of Arts, Combined Honours in Arts: English Studies, French, History of Art, Durham University

Award Date: 1 Jan 2011

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