Censorship and Sensitivities: Performing Tolerance in Postsecular Britain

  • Brian Singleton
Part of the Contemporary Performance InterActions book series (CPI)


Using two examples of secular cultural representation of diasporic communities in Britain (Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s 2004 play Behzti at the Birmingham Rep, and Third World Bunfight’s 2014 live art installation Exhibit B at the Barbican Centre in London), that attracted violent protest and ultimate closure, this essay examines competing notions of “rights” to representation that challenge a new interculturalism in an age of globalized hypervisibility. As a historical counterpoint in a monocultural Britain the essay also examines the intercultural encounter between religions and the secular British state in the production of the 1922 musical Mecca that eschewed contestation among the elites of a migrant community. Nevertheless, the chapter goes on to demonstrate how non-elite economic and conflict migrants of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, together with second, third, and fourth generation minority ethnic communities who face continued exclusion in socio-economic terms, contest their further exclusion in cultural representation not just in terms of race and ethnicity, but also along secular/religious axes. The politics of intercultural understanding and misunderstanding in multicultural societies thus lies in the contemporary condition of modernity whose performance exposes a “dissensus” around notions of the secular in societies considered by Jürgen Habermas as “postsecular.”

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drama & Theatre, Trinity College DublinThe University of DublinDublinIreland

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