Repository logo

Adapting to Resist: Epistemic Resistance in Twenty-First Century Antigones



Change log


Bodur Bayraktaroglu, Ekin 


My thesis explores how Sophocles′ Antigone is reworked in Britain, Ireland, and Turkey in the 21st century to represent and enact political resistance. My contention is that Antigone constitutes a form of epistemic resistance in relation to current political issues, such as immigration, women′s liberation, war in the Middle East, and necropolitics. By closely examining various rewritings of Antigone both in theory and in performance, I observe that in the 21st century, adapting Antigone has taken an epistemic turn that parallels the turn in political theory with increased emphasis on language, discourse and speech acts. These works dislocate the centre of gravity in the established readings of the tragedy to make space for new resistant narratives and practices to emerge. For them, the burial issue at the heart of the play, what Antigone does, i.e., Antigone’s burial of her brother against the king’s edict, is no longer central; instead, what comes to the forefront is how Antigone resists the sovereign through her speech acts. Departing from José Medina′s theory on epistemic resistance, my work proposes a reading of postcolonial ⁄ Global South theatrical and literary adaptations of Antigone alongside political theory from the Global South, such as Achille Mbembe′s necropolitics, Banu Bargu′s necroresistance, and Andrés Fabián Henao Castro′s reformulation of the metic for strangers (refugees, undocumented immigrants, noncitizens) in the 21st century as well as the recent work of Judith Butler and Bonnie Honig on Antigone. In the case of Britain, I discuss Kamila Shamsie’s diasporic novel Home Fire (2017) and Inua Ellams’ Antigone (2022) in relation to citizenship and belonging of Britain′s Muslims. In the case of Ireland, I focus on Colm Tóibín′s Pale Sister (2019) and Darren Murphy′s X′ntigone (2022) to scrutinize how Ireland′s postcolonial status facilitates a critique of neocolonialism and imperialist wars in recent years, especially in the Middle East. Finally, in the case of Turkey, I examine Şahika Tekand′s Eurydice’s Cry (2007) to look into the rise of right-wing populisms and dictatorial models, and Berfin Zenderlioğlu′s Kurdish version, Antigone2012 to rethink enforced disappearances in Turkey, Kurdistan. Through these case studies, my thesis puts literary adaptations and theory from the Global North and Global South in a generative conversation to highlight the entanglement of literature, postcolonial epistemologies, and counter–sovereign politics.





Wallace, Jennifer


adaptation, Antigone, epistemic resistance, Global South, performance philosophy, theatre


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge