Provocations to Postgrads

These one-minute provocations are our beginning point for the postgraduate day

They are intended to open up discussions about our own research practices and imperatives, and the practices and imperatives that we might want to incorporate but have not yet managed to.

We welcome your passion, uncertainty and curiosity to these virtual conversations.

Is the academic institution still valuable? – Ien Ang 

How do we meet across difference? – Christian Penny

A climate emergency! – Lara Stevens

What is the value of a PhD? – Rajni Shah

We are deeply thankful to those who made their voices and time available to us for this project. Further reading and information about each provocateur is provided below for your interest. 

About the Provocateurs:

Distinguished Professor Ien Ang is a Professor of Cultural Studies and was the founding Director of the Institute for Culture and Society. She is one of the leaders in cultural studies worldwide. Her books, including Watching Dallas, Desperately seeking the audience and On not speaking Chinese, are recognised as classics in the field. 

Text adapted from: Ien Ang, ‘Stuart Hall and the Tension between Academic and Intellectual Work’, International Journal of Cultural Studies 19, no. 1 (2016): 29–41

Christian Penny is the leader of the Coach Accelerator Programme at High Performance Sport New Zealand. He is a former Director of Toi Whakaari, Aotearoa’s premier drama academy where he guided the introduction of an Aotearoa-focused pedagogy, known as Kōiwitanga, leading to a new learning culture that has transformed teaching practice and elevated student engagement.

Audio adapted from: Jay Carter and David Galbraith, ‘Talking Performance with Special Guest Christian Penny’, Talking Performance (podcast), 15 June 2020,

Dr Lara Stevens is an early career researcher, lecturer and artist. She is the author of ‘Anti-War Theatre After Brecht’, editor and translator of ‘Politics, Ethics, Performance: Helene Cixous and the Theatre du Soleil’ by Helene Cixous and co-editor of ‘Feminist Ecologies: Changing Environments in the Anthropocene’ with Peta Tait and Denise Varney.

Text adapted from: Lara Stevens, ‘Anthroposcenic Performance and the Need For “Deep Dramaturgy”’, Performance Research 24, no. 8 (2019): 89–97 

Rajni Shah’s work as an artist leans gently but clearly across disciplines, countries, and thought structures. They are a quiet voice of change, creating invitations to gather, to read, to meet, and to listen. From 2013 to 2017, Rajni conducted research towards a practice-based PhD at Lancaster University, working with Professor Gerry Harris. 

For more on Rajni’s practice see: