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Emily Sahakian

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Associate Professor
Joint appointment with Romance Languages

Dr. Emily Sahakian teaches theatre studies and community-based theatre. She is jointly appointed with Romance Languages, where she teaches French-language literature and cultural studies and advanced French. She is a leading scholar of Francophone Caribbean performance and a community-engaged theatre artist. Her first book, Staging Creolization: Women’s Theater and Performance from the French Caribbean (University of Virginia Press, 2017), shines a light on a pioneering group of Caribbean women playwrights and reconstructs for the first time their plays’ international production and reception histories. While scholars have generally framed “creolization” as a linguistic phenomenon, she theorizes it as a performance-based practice of reinventing meaning and resisting the status quo, and thus expands our broader understanding of Caribbean theatre. The book has been reviewed in ten scholarly journals, across a range of disciplines, and described as “essential for Caribbean specialists” (Modern Drama) and “essential reading—across all disciplines and languages—for scholars and students alike of theater and performance studies” (Bulletin of the Comediantes). With Andrew Daily, she has prepared a critical edition and translation of Histoire de nègre (Tale of Black Histories), a Martinican play created collaboratively under Edouard Glissant’s direction. As dramaturg, she is supporting Gilbert Laumord and the SIYAJ theatre company in their adaptation and productions of the play. She was co-director, with Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Julie B. Johnson, Keith Arthur Bolden, and Kathleen Wessel, of the Georgia Incarceration Performance Project. Currently, she is co-editing, with Logan Connors and Lillian Manzor, a volume on theatre, performance, and revolution and producing a student-created new play, When Land is Gone, about Penn Center's histories and cultural importance, under the Willson Center's "Culture and Community at Penn Center, National Historic Landmark District" Mellon Grant. She coordinates the Theatre side of the Double Dawgs joint AB/MA degree with Nonprofit Management and Leadership, chairs the Inclusive Excellence Committee, heads the community-based theatre initiative, and is the faculty liaison for a partnership between UGA and the University of the Antilles in Martinique. 


Ph.D., Northwestern University and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Research Interests:

Francophone Caribbean theatre, performance, literatures, and culture; African diaspora theatre and performance; intercultural, postcolonial, and transnational theory and performance; theatre and performance historiography; French-language theatre; legacies of slavery and colonialism; performing violent histories; social justice, community-engaged theatre; theatre and education; translation for the stage.

Courses Regularly Taught:
Of note:

Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2021

Honorable Mention, Outstanding Public History Project Award, National Council on Public History, 2020 

Michael F. Adams Early Career Scholar in the Humanities and Arts, 2018 

Service-Learning Teaching Excellence Award, 2016

Articles Featuring Emily Sahakian

Dr. Emily Sahakian and departmental students Daja Rice and Caroline Caden will be presenting at the History of Slavery Symposium on Recognition, Reconciliation, and Redress. The program will feature presentations and performances that seek to recognize,…

Congratulations to Dr. Emily Sahakian for being one of three UGA professors to receive the 2021 Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching! 

The Georgia Incarceration Performance Project's production of By Our Hands received an honorable mention for the National Council on Public History's Outstanding Public History Project Award.

Events featuring Emily Sahakian
Room 201 | Fine Arts Building

Join us as we explore themes of land loss, land sovereignty, education, race, and history through a workshop performance. This is the first phase in a community-based theatre project, in partnership with the Penn Center, National Historic Landmark, under a Mellon Foundation grant. Each scene has been devised by the ensemble from historical and contemporary sources…

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