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I am the founder of Harmattan Theater,  an environmental theater company based in New York City and Professor of Global Studies in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute, New York. I am currently the Managing Co-Editor-in-Chief of ‘Island Studies Journal’,

My scholarly research combines critical theory with architectural and environmental theory and performance practice in studying the coastal and island environments of New York City. To that end, I have written widely on islands, globalization, coastal urbanism, performance and visual culture. I am interested in the junctures between cities, performance, water ecologies and coastal futures, particularly the changing coastal history of New York City in a comparative framework with archipelagoes and low-lying regions across the world-specifically East Africa, South and East Asia. One guiding question in my research is: how can I engage pedagogically with the impending realities of climate change as a citizen, an educator, a theater practitioner – and offer an applied approach to the study of anthropocenic and anthropogenic histories. New York City is an archipelago of forty islands. We are a sinking ecology. How can we collectively understand what is to be done?

Books by me include Aquatopia: Climate Interventions (with Sofia Varino, Routledge, 2022); Ghosts of Lumumba (Poetics Press, 2020); Sea Log: Indian Ocean to New York (Routledge, 2019); Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination (Duke University Press, 2013); Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship (Minnesota, 1999) and coeditor (with Sudipta Sen) of Terra Aqua: The Amphibious Lifeworlds of Coastal and Maritime South Asia (Routledge, 2022) Performing Hybridity (Minnesota, 1999). Other co-edited volumes include City Corps (Journal of Space and Culture), New Hybrid Identities (Women and Performance, 1995) and Bodywork (Women and Performance, 1999).

Since 2009, I have created community based, site specific performances addressing water issues along river and ocean cities around the maritime world including Istanbul, Venice, Amsterdam, Cochin, Delhi, Cape Town, Lisbon, New York. My directorial interests lie in bringing together questions of Water politics, dance, trance movement traditions, ritual, performance art, mime, images and text into conversation with coastal societies. My training in the Indian and Tanzanian environmental and folk theater traditions, including Jatra, Chautu Nadagam, Indian street theater movements, Japanese Kyogen, and the experimental theater techniques of Jerzy Grotowski, Bertolt Brecht and Marina Abramovich, have syncretically shaped my experiments with ecology, urban space and climate change.

My Fellowships and Awards include a Luce Grant; National Science Foundation Grant; Robert Rauschenburg Residency (Declined); Cornell Society for the Humanities Fellowship (Declined), Mellon Grant, Ford Foundation Grant, Rockefeller Fellowship at the Asian/American Center, CUNY, Pembroke Center Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Brown, a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a University of California, Humanities Research Institute Fellowship at Irvine.

My doctoral work was in British Cultural Studies with a focus on Black British and African Film and Theater, at the Department of Theater and Dance, the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I got my PhD. My Masters, also from UCSB, emphasized Directing and Playwriting. My writings have appeared in Liberation Monde, Social Text, Beyond Biopolitics, Clark University Series, Black Renaissance, Passage to Manhattan, Bowery Womens Poems, Architectural Design, Problematizing Blackness, Embodied Utopias, Corpus Delecti, Talking Visions, Sportcult, Soul, The Ends of Performance, The Visual Culture Reader, Interventions, New Observations, Praxis, Oxford Literary Review, Late Imperial Culture, African American Review, Movement Research. I have also been a guest editor for Women and Performance. I am currently completing my sixth monograph which engages the environmental ethics of climate change and site specific oceanscape performance, titled Walking with Climate.


Ph. D. University of California, Santa Barbara, 1992, Department of Dramatic Art

Oxford Center for African Studies, Oxford, U.K. 1990

M.A. University of California, Santa Barbara, 1987, Department of Dramatic Art

M.A. Madras Christian College, Madras, India, 1985, Department of English

B.A. Madras Christian College, Madras, India, 1983, Department of English








Aquatopia, Routledge, 2022. (with Sofia Varino)

Ghosts of Lumumba. Poetics Lab, 2020

Sea Log: Indian Ocean to New York, Routledge, 2019

Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination. Duke University Press, 2013

Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999


Edited Book Anthologies:

Aquapelago (In development with Phil Hayward)

Art At Waters Edge, Commissioned by Routledge, 2025. (with Tavia Nyong’o. In progress.)

Terra Aqua: The Amphibious and Maritime Histories of South Asia, Routledge, 2022. (With Sudipta Sen)

Performing Hybridity. (with Jennifer Fink). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999


Series Editor of Book Series at Routledge Press

Critical Climate Studies

Ocean and Island Studies

Kaleidoscope: Ethnography, Art, Architecture, Archaeology


Edited and Coedited Journal Issues:

Editor, Special Section, “Islands of Refuge.” Island Studies Journal, 2022

Editor, “Trauma and Islands” Island Studies Journal, 2020

Editor “Nomadic Identities, Archipelagic Movements and Island Diasporas.” Island Studies Journal, 15 (2), 2021

Co-Editor (with Macarena Gomez-Barris), “Coloniality and Islands” Shima, October 2019

Guest Editor (with Randy Martin), “Citycorps” Journal of Space and Culture, Summer 2006

Guest Editor, “Bodywork,” Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory.  Fall 1999

Guest Editor, Special Double Issue “New Hybrid Identities: Performing Race/Gender/Nation/Sexuality,” Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory.  Spring 1995

Guest Editor, Social Text # 124, Spring 2015


Chapters in Books

 ‘Hydrosophy” in Routledge Anthology of Ecocriticism (Janet Staiger Editor), 2024.

Intro and “Kerala Coast: Environmental Ethics of Precarity” Terra Aqua, Routledge, 2022

“Indian Ocean Ontology” Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds. Eds. S. Srinivas, N. Jayachandra, B. Ngweno, Routledge, 2020

“Kerala Deluge: Archipelagic Thinking” Overflow. Edited by Andrea Pavoni and Chris Ware. Lo Squandro, 2019

“Hauntings at the Hague” Travellin’ Mama. Eds Tesser et al. Demester Press, 2018

“Archipelagoes of the Unseen” Necropolis. Natasha Lubitch, Ed. Routledge, 2018

“Where have all the Cyclists Gone?”: The Case of Bangalore.” Eds. Burdsey. D., S. Thangaraj, and R. Dudrah. Sport and South Asian Diasporas: Playing Through Space and Time. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014

“Frugality and Urban Life” Ed. Brian McGrath. Urban Design Ecologies Reader. Wiley and Sons, 2012

“Aquatopia: Harmattan Theater, Neoliberal Provisionality, and the Future of Water” Eds. Nielsen/Ybarra, Neoliberalism and Global Theatres, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

“Fascia and the Grimace of Catastrophe” Ed. Patricia Clough. Beyond Biopolitics.  Duke University Press, 2011

“Globalization, Modernity and the Avant Garde” in Migrant Time, Clark University Series, Yale University Press, 2011

“Liquid Cartographies: Writing Indian Ocean”  in Passage to Manhattan. Ed.  Lopamudra Basu. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009

“Old Routes, Mnemonic Traces” Cultures of Trade:  Indian Ocean Studies, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007

“Globalization, Modernity, Performance” The Third Body, ed. Martin Hager, House of World Cultures, Berlin, 2004

“KungFu Cinema and Frugality” Visual Culture Reader 2.  Ed. Nicholas Mirzoeff.  London: Routledge, 2003

“Afro-Arab-Asian Imaginings” Problematizing Blackness: Self-Ethnographies by Black Immgirants to the United States. Ed. Jean Rahier.  London: Routledge 2003

“Frugality and the City: Hanoi Palimpsest” Embodied Utopias.  Ed. Rebecca Zorah et al.  London: Routledge, 2002

“Sycorax Mythology” Black Theater: Ritual Performance in the African Diaspora.  Ed. Paul Carter Harrison et al. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2002

“Architectures of Seeing.”  Corpus Delecti. Ed. Coco Fusco.  London: Routledge, 1999

“Transatlantic Insciptions: Desire, Diaspora and Cultural Citizenship.”  Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in the Age of Globalization.  Ed. Ella Shohat.  Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.  559-575

“New Hybrid Identities and Performance.”  Performing Hybridity.  Ed. May Joseph and Jennifer Fink. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Spring 1999

“Kung Fu, Tanzanian Youth Culture and Frugality as Enjoyment.”  Sport Cult.  Ed. Toby Miller and Randy Martin.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999

“Bodies Outside the State: Black British Women and the Limits of Citizenship.”  Ends of Performance. Ed. Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane.  New York: New York University Press, 1998.  197-213

“Soul, Transnationalism, and Imaginings of Revolution: Tanzanian Ujamaa and the Politics of Enjoyment.” Soul.  Ed. Monique Guillory and Richard Green.  New York: New York University Press, 1997.  126-138

“Performing in the Postcolony: The Plays of Mustapha Matura.”  Late Imperial Culture.  Ed. E. Ann Kaplan, Michael Sprinker and Roman De La Campa.  New York: Verso, 1995.  179-196

“Black Cultural Studies;” “Stuart Hall;” “Hybridity;” “V.Y. Mudimbe.”  A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory.  Ed. Michael Payne.  London: Blackwell Publishers, 1995.  66-68; 236; 251; 351


Essays in Journals

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

“Forced Migration and the Impossibility of Return” ALA, December 2020

“Multidirectional Thalssaology: Aqua Alta Ecologies from Indian Ocean to Venice” SHIMA January 2021

“Introduction: Islands, History, Decolonial Memory” Island Studies Journal, October 2020

“Dancing with Noguchi” CORONA Conversations. CUNY Forum, May 202 www.aaari.infor/cunyforum

“Introduction: Coloniality and Islands” (With M. Gomez-Barris) SHIMA, November 2019

“Aquapelagic Assemblages: Performing Water Ecology with Harmattan Theater.” WSQ, Vol. 45, Nos. 1 & 2, pp 151-166. Spring/Summer 2017

“Slow Walk: Climate as Volatility and Expansive Political Practice.” Ed. Mark Franko. Randy Martin and Dance Studies. Danee Research Journal, Fall 2016

“Siram: Sea Log of Interrupted Dreams.” Ed. Alaina Feldman, The Ocean After Nature. Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, 2016

 “Brainwalk.” Mom Egg. Ed. Marjorie Tesser. Fall. 2016

“Cricket Sounding Darkness.” Ed. Kristin Prevallet. VOX MOM, 2016

“Risk, Volatility and the Limits of Knowledge.” Social Text, Denkbild on Randy Martin. Spring 2015

“Beach 116, Far Rockaway.” Periscope, Social Text. Hurricane Sandy Issue, October 2013

Interview with Iris Deroeux. “Un an après Sandy, New York nie toujours le risqué climatique.”

Liberation, Monde. 29 Octobre 2013.

“Where have all the Cyclists Gone?”: The Case of Bangalore.” Eds. Burdsey. D. and S. Thangaraj. Special Issue on“Sport and the South Asian Diaspora”. Journal of South Asian Popular Culture 11(3). Fall 2013.

“Indian Ocean Flows: Interview with Meena Alexander” Black Renaissance, Fall 2010.

“On Childhood: Interview with Meena AlexanderMom Egg, Fall 2009

“Urban faciality and Thanatos” Women and Performance, Fall 2007

“Somatic City: Laughter and Civic Imaginings” Journal of Space and Culture, Summer 2006

“Fanon, Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh” Women and Performance, July 2006

“Cochin: Nerve of the World” Architectural Design, Fall 2005

“Hanoi Palimpsest” Xcp: Cross-Cultural Poetics, 2001

“Old Routes, Mnemonic Traces”  The UTS Review: Cultural Studies and New Writing, (Indian Ocean Issue) Vol. 6 Issue 2, Spring 2001

“Corporeal Poetics and Body Management.”  Women and Performance, Fall 1999

“Frugality and the Urban.”  New Observations, Summer 1999

“Asian Mysticism and Soho Chic.”  Xcp: Cross-Cultural Poetics, Spring 1999

“Alliances Across the Margins.”  African American Review: Theatre Issue 31 (1997): 595-599

“Experiments in a Theatre of the Oppressed.”  Movement Research 15 (1997): 5-6

“Diaspora, New Hybrid Identities and the Performance of Citizenship.”  Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory 7.2-8.1 (1995): 3-13

“Of Hybrids and Postcolonial Debris.”  Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 9.2 (1995): 134-140

“Dystopia, Promise and the Imagined Citadel.”  The Oxford Literary Review 17 (1995): 87-103



“Governors Island” Podcast for Open House New York, by Gotham New York, Oct. 2018.

“India Decriminalizes Gay relationships.” Interview with Live i24News TV. Sept. 7, 6pm 2018

Interview on Angela Mao for The New York Times. November 6, 2016.

Interview with Iris Deroeux. “Un an après Sandy, New York nie toujours le risqué climatique.”

Liberation, Monde. 29 Octobre 2013.


Artistic Director, Harmattan Theater,


Tkuweyo, the waves in Lenape. Little Island, June 4, 2024. Park Avenue Armory, NYC.


Jape, Shoreline in Lenape. #SandyAnniversaryFlashDance. Rockaway Island, October 30, 2022. Park Avenue Armory, NYC


Aquatopia, Governors Island, September 30, 2017


Island of the Mad, Roosevelt Island, May 2016

Tevere/Periyar. Isla Tiberina, Rome, Jan 2016


Maldive Requiem. Male, Maldives, April 2015

Brooklyn Crossings. Brooklyn Bridge, NYC, March 2015

Theodosian Wall, Istanbul, Turkey. February, 2015

Screening, Far Rockaway. Los Angeles Art Fair. January 2015


Screening, When the Sea Rises, Harmattan Production, NYU Water Week Art Show, March 2014.

Aqua Alta, Devils Bridge, Torcello, Venice, November 2014

Sea Dijk. Singel Street, Amsterdam, May 2014


Far Rockaway, Tribute Park, Rockaway Park, Far Rockaway, NYC, September 2013


Mar Portugues Video Installation, InShadow Festival, Lisbon, November 24, 2012.

Mar Portugues, Terreiro Do Paco, Lisbon, Portugal, May 2012


Cabo de Tormentoso, Cape of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa, December 2012

When The Sea Rises, Vasco Da Gama Square, Cochin, India, October 2011

Chronocorpus, Ongoing Digital Collaboration with Sofia Varino.

Rikuzentakata, Governors Island, June 11, 2011

Grid Scenes,  Fourteenth Street, NYC, April 3, 2011

Yamuna: Notes to a Dying River, Delhi, March 6, 2011 Film Short.


Dreamscapes, Meg Webster’s Stone Garden, Pier 64, Manhattan, New York City, September 11, 2010

Confluence, Picnic Point, Governors Island, June 11, 12, 13, 2010


The River That Flows Both Ways, West 70th Street Pier, Manhattan, October 17, 2009

Mannahatta Yatra, Christopher Street Pier, New York City, October 2, 2009

Henry Hudson’s Forgotten Maps, FIGMENT Festival Governor’s Island, New York City, June 12/14, 2009

Living Lines, FRAGMENT Festival, Desalvio Playground, SoHo, June 6, 2009


Penny Jones Puppet Company, New York City


Peppi and the PopUp Dragon, Westbeth, NYC


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Westbeth Center, NYC, 2010


The Circus and Sebastian, Westbeth Center, NYC, 2009

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, FIGMENT Festival, Governor’s Island, NYC, 2009

The Circus and Sebastian, New York Public Library, 2009


The Circus and Sebastian, Westbeth Center, NYC, 2008

Fisherman and the Genie, and What Music Looks Like, Washington Square Park, NYC, 2008

The Fisherman and the Genie, and What Music Looks Like, PS 206, Gravesend, NYC, 2008


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, Central Park, NYC, 2007

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, PS 134, NYC, 2007

Fishermen and the Genie, New York Public Library, Donell Library, NYC, 2007

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and What Music Looks Like, Lenny Suib Puppet Playhouse, NYC, 2007


Fisherman and the Genie, PS 134, 2006

Fisherman and the Genie, Lenny Suib Puppet Playhouse, NYC, 2006



Beginner at Life, Alana Free, Times Square Arts Center, 2007

Beginner at Life,, Alana Free, United Jewish Appeal, NYC, 2007

Beginner at Life, Alana Free, Sheena’s Place, Toronto, 2007

Indian Ocean Reverie (Staged Reading of Illiterate Heart, Meena Alexander) Asian American Workshop, NYC

A Tempest, by Aime Cesaire, Disha Theatre Production, Producer’s Club, NYC

Shock of Arrival, Meena Alexander, Asian American Writers Workshop, NYC

Nayaa Rasta, Kayal Kites, Loft Space, New York City



Carmen Rockette, The Gang’s All Here Choreographer Patricia Hoffbauer, Joyce Theater, NYC

The Rope Dancers, M. Wishengrad.  Margaret.  Chowdiah Hall, Bangalore

Tea and Sympathy, Robert Anderson.  Lilly.  Museum Theatre, Madras

The Bell Jar (An Adaptation), Sylvia Plath. Museum Theatre, Madras



Fled. Directed by Tod Sod, Pratt Memorial Hall Theater, New York

Dead Heat, Directed by David Henderson, Ontological Hysterical Theater, St. Marks Poetry Project



Fear and Desire, Alana Free

Beginner at Life by Alana Free, Times Square Arts Center, NYC

On Caring for the Beast by Shishir Kurup, Disha Theater Production, Currican Theater, NYC