Emma Minkley

DSI-NRF Early Career Doctoral Fellow

Dr Emma Minkley completed her doctoral studies as an Early Career Doctoral Fellow on the DSI-NRF Fellowship Programme. Her research is interested in the connections that can be made when history relocates itself within the realm of art, and conversely, when art takes on history as its medium. Her broader inquiries include performativity, play, and the relation between objects and subjects. Dr Minkley’s dissertation focused on the “hand” as it appears variously in the production, performance, and reception of puppetry. Taking the archive of the Handspring Puppet Company as its starting point or medium, the project explores the theorisation of the hand as an object of thought and artmaking. The crucial function of the hand to the puppeteer opens onto larger questions about the human’s relation to technology, money, and politics. The study thus initiates a set of dialectical connections between body and mind, intuition and intellect, practice and theory, each centred on the relationship between the hand and the head. Dr Minkley’s study further serves as an investigation and documentation of Handspring Puppet Company’s work and its influence on the genre of “puppetry for adults” in South Africa and globally, especially as it engages with localised stories and puppetry-making practices in colonial and post-colonial contexts.