Oona Hatton

Oona Hatton

Associate Professor
Department of Communication Studies


performance, ethnography, race, pedagogy, critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, practice as research, incarceration, theatre, dramaturgy, playwriting, social justice

Current Research Activities

I am a practice-based performance artist and ethnographer working at the intersections of theatre, race, and social justice. I have written about white supremacy at performance sites including community theatre, programming in carceral settings, and the performance studies classroom. My most recent student performance explored the impact of hate crimes on members of the SJSU community. During my (2022-23) sabbatical, I will be developing multiple creative projects with my company, Davis Repertory Theatre, including a play about wildfires, a creativity symposium on local and global impacts of mining, and a virtual storywalk with indigenous community members.


Research Connections to Current Events

Theatre is a site with tremendous potential for creating community, speaking truth to power, and teaching and learning. Multiple phenomenon impede our ability/desire to come together in person, including COVID, the ascendancy of the digital public sphere, and the extraordinary antipathy of our current sociopolitical moment. In the face of these challenges, I work to create meaningful, face-to-face aesthetic experiences and text-based scholarship that reminds/convinces people of the impact of embodied knowledge.

Like virtually every aspect of modern life, the practice of making and consuming performance is rife with systemic racism and other entrenched oppressive practices and beliefs. I am committed to reparative teaching and research practices that strive towards equity.


Personal Connections to Research

Because so much of my work as an ethnographer and theatre-maker is embodied, it is invariably personal. If I had to identify certain experiences that have led me to where I am today, I would say my ten + years in Chicago's "Off-Loop" theatre community, SJSU's ODEI 2017 and 2018 faculty series Whiteness & Race, taught by Dr. Susan Murray (subsequently co-facilitated by Nico Peck and myself), and being a parent. The latter in particular drives me to follow Judge Abby Abinanti's suggestion that our primary goal in life is to be good ancestors.


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