Sites of Violence is a Research Project undertaken at the Sydney Environment Institute


The Sites of Violence project examines two key subjects:

– a fascination with the relationship between the academy and the artist, and
– the mechanisms that stop us from seeing violence.

This artistic social science project aims to weave these two provocations to produce an interdisciplinary theatrical work addressing violence, injustice and denial in the every day. The creative development process will include Scholar/artists in studio; roundtable discussions, public talks and co-authored papers that track the project and it’s overarching themes.

Led by Animateur Michelle St Anne, Sites of Violence is an exploration of a 20 year practice. Employing her unique artistic methodology of ‘Composing Self through Free Play’ she recomposes this method for an academic context to provide scaffolding for scholars working within multi-disciplinary research. St Anne aims to contribute to a broader conversation about scholarly methodologies, diversity of knowledge and multidisciplinarity within the academy.

The artistic work ‘The foul of the air’ embodies the tension between the personal and the universal by telling the stories from the two most significant sites of violence of our time – against women and the environment. St Anne’s body of work has largely told stories about violence against women within their own homes. Her own childhood home. Stories of those on the fringes of society, those who are not heard or seen.

She does recognise that talking about violence within the home is often too confronting so the artist looks to re-contextualise this into the Meta by drawing parallels with the slow violence occurring in the environment. Where the women become the non-human – the rivers, the coastlines, the Australian bush, an endangered species.

This project reconciles St Anne’s “two halves” – her role as Deputy Director of the Sydney Environment Institute where she lives and breathes its Climate Change research portfolio and her beloved theatre company The Living Room Theatre which celebrates 20 years in 2020.

The outcomes of this project Sites of Violence hopes to help us to recognise unseen violence, so as to build our capacity to stand in its truth rather than in its denial.


Research Lead and Animateur:
Michelle St Anne, Sydney Environment Institute & Department of Performance Studies.

Academic Research Collaborators:
Kari Norgaard, University of Oregon
David Roesner, LMU

Danielle Celermajer, (Supervisor) School of Social and Political Sciences
Ian Maxwell, (Supervisor) Department of Performance Studies

Megan MacKenzie, Department of Government and International Relations
Dinesh Wadiwel, School of Social and Political Sciences
Bruce Isaacs, Department of Art History
Carolyn Mackay, Sydney Law School
Chris L Smith, School of Architecture, Planning and Design