The Necropolitical Theater

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4187-2

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4186-5

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ISBN 978-0-8101-4185-8
Publication Date
May 2020
Page Count
160 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Necropolitical Theater

Race and Immigration on the Contemporary Spanish Stage
Jeffrey K. Coleman

The Necropolitical Theater: Race and Immigration on the Contemporary Spanish Stage demonstrates how theatrical production in Spain since the early 1990s has reflected national anxieties about immigration and race. Jeffrey K. Coleman argues that Spain has developed a “necropolitical theater” that casts the non-European immigrant as fictionalized enemy—one whose nonwhiteness is incompatible with Spanish national identity and therefore poses a threat to the very Europeannes of Spain. The fate of the immigrant in the necropolitical theater is death, either physical or metaphysical, which preserves the status quo and provides catharsis for the spectator faced with the notion of racial diversity. Marginalization, forced assimilation, and physical death are outcomes suffered by Latin American, North African, and sub-Saharan African characters, respectively, and in these differential outcomes determined by skin color Coleman identifies an inherent racial hierarchy informed by the legacies of colonization and religious intolerance.
Drawing on theatrical texts, performances, legal documents, interviews, and critical reviews, this book challenges Spanish theater to develop a new theatrical space. Coleman proposes a “convivial theater” that portrays immigrants as contributors to the Spanish state and better represents the multicultural reality of the nation today.

About the Author

JEFFREY K. COLEMAN is an assistant professor of Spanish at Marquette University.

The Necropolitical Theater offers an insightful and accessible critique of contemporary Spanish plays dealing with migration to Spain in the last three decades. This is the first book devoted to the complex intersection of theater and migration. With it Coleman makes a significant contribution to discussions of migration, race and national identity, and the role theater plays in either humanizing the immigrant’s experience and generating audiences’ awareness and affect, or reifying nativist anxieties.” —Isolina Ballesteros, author of Immigration Cinema in the New Europe


“In his perceptive study, Coleman focuses on the presentation of Latin-American, Moroccan, and sub-Saharan immigrants as protagonists or secondary characters in contemporary plays from Spain. He shows how their dramatic trajectory reflects historical attitudes toward each group. His findings transcend departmental boundaries and should be of interest to all concerned with immigration and the populist response in Europe today.” —Marion Peter Holt, author The Contemporary Spanish Theater (1949-1972)

The Necropolitical Theatre is illuminating and groundbreaking in its examination of the paradoxes and problems in the representation of the otherness of immigrants from Africa and Latin America to Spain in the world of theater.” —Jessica Folkart, author of Liminal Fiction at the Edge of the Millennium: The Ends of Spanish Identity

“Delineating a ‘theater of whiteness’ in the highly racialized culture of contemporary Spain, Necropolitical Theater carefully traces literary engagements with a fictionalized threat from nonwhite immigrants. Coleman’s sensitive study lays bare a tragic paradox whereby plays intended to humanize such immigrants, overlooking the vibrant transcultural exchanges that migration might bring, focus instead on their physical or social death. Essential reading for scholars engaged with post-Francoist, contemporary Spanish culture and European immigration.” —Benita Sampedro Vizcaya, coeditor of Border Interrogations: Crossing Spanish Frontiers

“The Necropolitical Theatre is an excellent book about the relationship between social exclusion, marginalization, and its representation in theatre. Insightful analysis of plays about immigrants are combined with reflections on their reception and how to diversify both theatre and audiences. An invitation to imagine different scenarios for immigrants in contemporary Spain, and a must read for all those interested in discussions of race and the perception and hierarchization of different immigrant groups.” —Daniela Flesler, author of The Return of the Moor: Spanish Responses to Contemporary Moroccan Immigration