A Maiden Speech: This is an emergency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


Let people own the natural resources, like the wind, and the tide and the sun. … We rethink the way we organize the system. We live happier lives. We breathe in cleaner air. We breathe. The planet is ours to enjoy, not to exploit. Now or never, we act. And the future exists in your imagination already.

Lena Šimić’s article is a critical reflection on her ‘maiden speech’ that was delivered at the Liverpool Town Hall as a part of a Liverpool City Council (LCC) meeting dedicated to climate change on 17 July 2019 and at which a ‘climate emergency’ was declared. The maiden speech in itself, or any political speech in a town hall chamber, is a form of performance for the audience of other councillors and council officers as well as a number of guests, community and campaign groups, and citizens who are present for that particular meeting in public. Šimić’s maiden speech is also available via social media (@LenaForAnfield 2019) and was covered in the local press. The article reflects on Šimić’s contradicting and at times frustrating roles – member of the Council, political party member, artist/performer in the town hall, activist on the streets and scholar on this page – and their different positions in challenging the current political and cultural systems. While these various modes of operation are often messily interlinked, it is the doing, the performance, that takes over – identity is created and enabled through the action. The critical reflection outlines some of the author’s other activities in her public role as an elected representative beyond the speech itself, in particular her involvement and chairing of LLC’s Climate Change and Environment Select Committee. The article is an attempt to offer an answer to the question of how can one best effect policy as well as cultural and behavioural changes in the face of climate crisis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerformance Research
Issue number3-4
Early online date28 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2023


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