Women's Activist Theatre in Jamaica and South Africa

Gender, Race, and Performance Space
Author: Nicosia M. Shakes
Seeing theater as a crucible of feminist, womanist, and Black thought and creativity
Cloth – $110
Paper – $28
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 08/15/2023
Cloth: 08/15/2023
Buy the Book Request Desk/Examination Copy Request Review Copy Request Rights or Permissions Request Alternate Format Preview

About the Book

Theater is an essential theoretical and practical site for forging Black radical thought, Africana feminisms, and womanism. Nicosia Shakes draws on ethnographic research in Jamaica and South Africa to analyze the vital relationship between activism and theater production. Concentrating on four performance events, Shakes situates the work of theater groups and projects within a trajectory of women-led social justice movements established in Jamaica, South Africa, and globally from the early 2000s to the present. Her analysis reveals movements driven by Black women’s artistic, intellectual, and organizational labor and focused on issues that range from sexual violence to reproductive justice to the spatial manifestations of racial, gender, and economic oppression. Shakes shows how theater’s political and pedagogical roles become entangled with histories and geographies of oppression and resistance; the identities and connections created by movements of people in the context of colonial and settler colonial histories; and ideas of womanism and feminism.

About the Author

Nicosia Shakes is an assistant professor of history and critical race and ethnic studies at the University of California, Merced.



Women's Activist Theatre in Jamaica and South Africa is a provocative ethnographic look at some of the most influential Black women’s theatre collectives in the world. Focusing on Jamaica and South Africa, Shakes takes us on a journey into the world of theater for social change, emphasizing the ways that Black women have chosen to use performance and embodiment to agitate for rights and speak out against multiple forms of violence. Engaging with performance as a public practice, Shakes demonstrates how the theater has been and continues to be a valuable political zone for Black women. Women's Activist Theatre in Jamaica and South Africa makes critical contributions to Black performance studies, Black Studies, theater studies and anthropology, and is a must read for anyone interested in the transnational politics of race, gender, and the political stage.”--Christen A. Smith, author of Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence, and Performance in Brazil