Creative Ethnographies: Writing Exile, Theatre, and Citizenship

Lidis Garbovan

School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology, Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent


This article explores the creative possibilities that emerge from alternative modes of ethnographic practice, with an emphasis on transformative forms of communicating qualitative data. The paper discusses two theatre plays, one about Iranian asylum seekers held in detention on Manus Island, off-shore Australia, and another one about migrant women of African descent performing a citizenship contest in the UK. The key argument is that enacting stories of life in detention, in exile and at the margins of citizenship can be a powerful means of constructing identity through performativity. The second part of the article presents the creative interpretation of a PhD ethnographic fieldwork in India (2017) in the form of a short verbatim theatre play. The theatre play emerged from analysing the qualitative data, semi-structured, walking and ambulant interviews and participant observation in the attempt to understand the experiences of Indian citizenship for Tibetans living in exile in India.


Ethnography; Theatre; Performativity; Citizenship; Exile; Migrants

Author contact: lidis.garbovan [at]

Citation: Garbovan, L., 2019. “Creative Ethnographies: Writing Exile, Theatre, and Citizenship”, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 22(1), 85-96.