Ilaria Tucci: Community-Based Theatre as Conflict Transformation in Lampedusa

This research is located in the island of Lampedusa, which is the southernmost point of Italy and a highly militarised migration hub. In her doctoral dissertation, MA Ilaria Tucci uses community-based theatre as a research method in exploring and telling about the everyday life of people in this militarised context. Theatre practice becomes a tool for conflict transformation and a participatory method for feminist peace research.

Over the last decades, Lampedusa has represented the European border and the symbol of migration hub, as it is a transit place for many people trying to reach Europe by crossing the strip of Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Northern African shores. In the academic, mediatic and activist discussions Lampedusa became a privileged observatory about migration and human rights. Concurrently, the surrounding waters of Lampedusa have been witnessing thousands of deaths at the border. This thesis, while grounded on Lampedusa, introduces a different perspective, being in essence, interdisciplinary arts-based research in peace and conflict studies about everyday life in the militarized context of Lampedusa. Ilaria Tucci visited Lampedusa in 2015, 2016 and 2017; during the last two trips she facilitated a community-based theatre workshop with a women-driven group from the local association called Askavusa.

The dissertation is developed around an innovative structure, as a dramaturgic fabric. The play Flotsam and Jetsam at the Border is the skeleton of the book; it was co-created by Tucci and her research participants, who were actively involved in the co-production of knowledge about life at the militarized border of Europe. The play is one of the outcomes of the research and at the same time represents the main research material.

“The content of the play reveals the multiple contradictory experiences of life in a militarized European border. At the same time, the process of co-creation offers the opportunity to reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of an unconventional method of academic knowledge production,” states Tucci.

Throughout the dissertation, Tucci explores how community-based theatre is not only a dialogical tool for conflict transformation in conflict-affected communities, but also a prefigurative practice for envisioning alternative futures.

As outlined by Tucci, “theatre is more than an exploration of the possible, it is a gate that entices individuals – researcher included – into an emotional, physical and mental collectivity. It provides a scaffold which supports them, not only in matters of disclosure, but also through participatory approaches that enable individual and collective empowerment”.

Ilaria Tucci was born in Pisa (Italy), has a master’s degree in Acting from the Italian National Drama Academy “Silvio D’Amico” and a master’s degree in Peace Studies from the University of Pisa (Italy). She has an extensive track record as a theatre practitioner, performer, consultant, community facilitator, diversity agent, theatre director and event coordinator. She currently works in Tampere University as researcher in the project Homeward, led by Dr. Bruno Lefort and funded by KONE Foundation (2022–2024).

The doctoral dissertation of Master of Arts Ilaria Tucci in the field of Peace and Conflict Research titled Community-Based Theatre as Conflict Transformation in Lampedusa: Co-Producing Knowledge about Life at the Militarised Border of Europe will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Saturday 11 June 2022, in the Main Building, Auditorium D11 (address: Kalevantie 4, Tampere). The Opponent will be Professor Annick Wibben from Swedish Defence University (Sweden). The Custos will be Professor Tarja Väyrynen from the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The public defence can be also followed via remote connection

The dissertation is available online at

Photo by Saara Partanen/Mimi & Nöde Photography