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A pathbreaking exploration of the international and intercultural connections within Oceanian performance

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Introduction: Toward a Transpasifika Performance Studies
Chapter 2
Pelagic Performances: Pacific Voyagers on the Sea and Stage
Chapter 3
(Dis)Appearing Islands: Climate Change and the Future Geographies of Oceanian Performance
Chapter 4
Performing Transnational Sāmoa: Remittance, Resistance, Community
Chapter 5
Destination Urbanesia: Cityscapes, Militarization, and Islander Identities
Chapter 6
Epilogue: Pacific Futures


Moving Islands reveals the international and intercultural connections within contemporary performance from Oceania, focusing on theater, performance art, art installations, dance, film, and activist performance in sites throughout Oceania and in Australia, Asia, North America, and Europe. Diana Looser’s study moves beyond a predictable country-specific or island-specific focus to encompass an entire region defined by diversity and global exchange, showing how performance operates to frame social, artistic, and political relationships across widely dispersed locations. The study also demonstrates how Oceanian performance contributes to international debates about diaspora, indigeneity, urbanization, and environmental sustainability. The author considers the region’s unique cultural and geographic dynamics as she brings forth the paradigm of transpasifika to suggest a way of understanding these intercultural exchanges and connections, with the aim to “rework the cartographic and disciplinary priorities of transpacific studies to privilege the activities of Islander peoples.”

Diana Looser is Associate Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Stanford University. Her previous book, Remaking Pacific Pasts: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Theater from Oceania, received the Rob Jordan Prize from the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama, and Performance Studies.

“A rare model of rigorous, original and highly accomplished scholarship. The book’s canvas is vast, in the number and variety of artistic works examined, in historical depth and, above all, in geographical reach. Looser has managed to extend our understanding of postcolonial and intercultural performance and at the same time shift current paradigms in how comparative, interdisciplinary analyses of embodied arts praxis might be executed across different scales.”
– Helen Gilbert, Royal Holloway, University of London

- Helen Gilbert

“A volume of Oceanic scope and vision . . . Moving Islands is a rich and vibrant book, alive with the urgency and inventiveness of the artwork it examines. It puts the Pacific region on the map of Performance/Theatre Studies, demanding that the discipline reconceive how it understands the relationships between place, culture, people, and performance.”
 – Margaret Werry, University of Minnesota 

- Margaret Werry

Finalist: Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) 2022 Outstanding Book Award

- ATHE Outstanding Book Award

Finalist: American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) 2022 Barnard Hewitt Book Award

- ASTR Barnard Hewitt Book Award

"Looser makes a compelling case for how Oceanic performance reflects and shapes the concerns of the twenty-first century, a "Pacific Century," where "some of the world's most significant political, economic, and environmental issues are being forged and tested" (274)."
-Modern Drama

- Modern Drama

"Moving Islands creates a needed paradigm shift in theatre and performance studies. It is imperative for theatre and performance scholars of all backgrounds to familiarize themselves with Looser's work; it offers the foundation of a new field of study and has the potential to serve as a catalyst for change in how theatre and performance studies are taught." 
-Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

- Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism

"Moving Islands is a monumental achievement, a discipline-defining project of vast intellectual scope which adds considerably to knowledge and theories about Oceanic theatre and performance."
-Australasian Drama Studies

- Australasian Drama Studies

"Infused with Pasifika worldviews and stories of exchange, Moving Islands explores the contemporary Pasifika moment, spanning a range of examples from transpacific voyaging to militarisation and nuclear testing...Moving Islands will be a linchpin text for scholars, students and artists with an interest in how the Pacific defines itself and, indeed, world futures in and through performance in this 'Pacific Century.'
--Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies

- Journal of New Zealand and Pacific Studies