Arabella Stanger and Sharanya Murali appointed to TaPRA Exec

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We are delighted to welcome Sharanya Murali and Arabella Stanger to the TaPRA Executive, sharing the role of Research Officer: Development.

Their contact details are available here and we have reproduced their nomination statement below. We are very much looking forward to working with them both.

“We, Sharanya Murali and Arabella Stanger, nominate ourselves jointly to take up the role of Research Officer: Development and Public Engagement for TaPRA. In sharing this role, we hope to contribute to and further the ethos and practice of coalition central to TaPRA currently as an organisation, and vital to the survival and transformation of research in the sector.

Between us, we arrive with different fields and levels of experience as researchers in the subjects represented by TaPRA, as an ECR (Sharanya) and a mid-career researcher (Arabella) exploring questions of power, politics and resistance across performance, theatre and dance.

Sharanya is a lecturer in Theatre at Brunel University London. She has worked in the journalism, publishing and higher education sectors in India and the UK, and has collaborated with heritage and other public sector institutions in a research capacity. She has participated in conferences, including at TaPRA and IFTR, and is interested in developing the relationship between universities and the public humanities.

Arabella works across dance and performance studies and is Senior Lecturer and Joint Head of Drama at the University of Sussex. She has convened Sussex’s research events programme (SPEAR) and collaborated with colleagues, public partners and funders on research on racism in dance (Contemporary Dance and Whiteness). She has participated in TaPRA’s research cultures across Working Groups, conferences and interim events, has been a trade union organiser in HE and is invested in grassroots action in our sector.

We hope to use this range of experience, as well as an ethical division of labour, to highlight—and learn from—the specific challenges and inequities facing researchers and artists in our fields at disciplinary and sector-levels. We are keen to develop an activist approach to supporting TaPRA members in making change within the organisation and sector-writ large.

Some of these approaches include:

1. nurturing the TaPRA Research Fellowship scheme (represented in this year’s Showtown Fellowship)

2. developing events that are useful in addressing the research challenges faced by casualised and precarious colleagues across levels of experience

3. working with members to develop frames for public engagement that are supportive and responsive to challenges in the broader political landscape, including far-right ‘culture wars’ and the hostile environment

4. developing practices of mentorship within the organisation, as reflected organically through the conference and working group cultures

Ultimately, we see this role as an opportunity to address pressures felt variously by, but also trouble the distinction between, ‘new’ and ‘established’ researchers. That these material pressures are also racialised, ableist and gendered, we feel, calls for an approach to development and public engagement based in practices of action-based solidarity.”

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