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Annick van Rinsum about her play: World Politics Three Times

MA International Relations: Culture and Politics student Annick van Rinsum created a play as a method to research her master’s thesis. “Through writing this play, I aim to contribute to our understanding of International Relations Theory. I’m specifically interested in the question how our theories about ‘how the world works’, shape the world.”

First of all, why did you decide to study the Culture and Politics specialization of the MA International Relations?

I studied at the University College Utrecht and did a major in International Relations and a minor in Media and Performance Studies. I decided to study Culture and Politics because of the humanities-based approach to International Relations. I have always been interested in the philosophical debates that are going on within International Relations Theory (IRT). I also really enjoy reading about the fringes of International Relations scholarship and the novel perspectives that they offer.

How did you come up with the idea of creating a play to research your thesis topic?

My bachelor’s thesis focused on narrative approaches to IR. I mainly studied the book The Politics of Exile, written by Elizabeth Dauphinee, which is written as a novel, but is published as an academic work. She studied complex issues on ethics and war, and she realized that to show the complexity of these issues using the form of a novel actually workedbetter than a conventional piece of academic work.

I think these kinds of creative approaches to research are very promising and I really believe in their validity as academic endeavors. So, I wanted to apply this myself for my master’s thesis. After talking to my thesis supervisor, I decided to create a play because writing a good novel usually takes a couple of years, and making a theatre performance could be feasible in a semester’s time. There has been some theorizing in IR about how a method such as making a play could add to our broader understanding of the world around us, and specifically how it could add to the field of international relations. Also, I had already gained some experience in making performances in my bachelors and have been a director's assistant and actor for the graduation plays of Chaja van Kollem, a former student at the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, so I had some idea about what such a process entails.  

Annick van Rinsum

What did you research through making World Politics Three Times?

In the play I contrast three theories: liberalism, poststructuralism, and relational cosmology. Through the process of making a theatre performance; which includes research, thinking, writing, rehearsing, talking, performing, watching, and reflective discussions, I aim to engage with the philosophical underpinnings of these three diverging theories in IR. How do these theories understand how the world works, and as a result how do they shape that world? So, for the play, I created a storyline that will be told three times, each time according to a different theory. The characters act and react differently each time, according to the different philosophical underpinnings of each of the three theories.

How was it working with actors for the play?

I got lucky because the actors I found are really interested in the things that I’m researching on. So, for example, one of the actors was already interested in how different perspectives of the world influence how people operate. Another one of my actors is also very much interested in arts-informed research. So, the actors are not only enthusiastic about making a great performance, but also content-wise, it is something that they find interesting and that they want to engage with.

What are your plans after graduating from the Culture and Politics master’s programme?

At the moment I work as a freelance podcast maker next to my studies, but I would love to do more of what I’m doing now. So, I want to use creative processes to delve into complex issues. I think it’s really important that creative processes are more legitimately seen as academic work. So, I hope I can contribute to that.

World Politics Three Times will be performed on Sunday 28 May at 16:00h. Get your tickets via Theater Ins Blau.

Interview: Femke Stokkel

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