Call for Contributions: Issue 9

Call for Contributions: Issue 9

European Journal of Theatre and Performance

(article deadline: 1 August 2024)

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Guest Editors: Yana Meerzon, Pieter Verstraete
Managing Editors: Valentina Temussi, Pieter Verstraete
Editors in Chief: Luk van den Dries, Timmy De Laet

In the last few decades, we have seen an increase of migration waves testing the border policies of (Fortress) Europe whilst impacting cultural debates and artistic expressions around asylum, exile, and (forced) displacement. The latter has also caused an increase of supportive cultural programs dedicated to art in exile. In literary, cultural, and theatre scholarship, diaspora has emerged as a critical concept for reflecting on contemporary politics, the state of our democracies, and established definitions of societies and communities, calling into question deep-rooted nation-state models. In fact, as Meerzon (2012) has suggested, diasporic and exilic communities pose a direct counter-arrangement to Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’ (1983), as a product of their own collective imagination and practices of integration. The exilic community, on the contrary, is based on rupture, disparateness, and bifurcation, but also on a shared experience of displacement, which defines newly forming transnational communities. It was Brecht who already referred in his exilic poem ‘Über die Bezeichnung Emigranten’ (‘On the Term Emigrants’, 1937) to the exiles as ‘us’ against ‘them’, those who expelled.

Underneath these new communities lie deeper tragedies of escape from armed conflict, economic crisis, tyrannical rulers, or dictatorial governments over which the present rise of ultra-right-wing and nationalist groups looms its long shadows. In this context, nostalgic narratives for a pre-globalisation nationalism feed into exclusionary forces. Yet the exiled roam also with a sense of territory or country with them, and a ‘shame that stains our country’, as Brecht would write in his poem (1937: 718; our translation). Hence, in this EJTP theme issue, we want to examine how exilic life as a significant expression of contemporary human experience is entangled with pressing questions of (neo)nationalism and associated subjects like war, humanitarian devastation, and (post)colonialism.

Exile is of course not a phenomenon only of the last decades. Many have designated the twentieth century as the ‘age of exile’ (Aprile 2010), even if exilic histories stretch much further back in time and extend well into our own contemporaneity under the cosmopolitanism of late capitalism. However, our current refugee crises beg the question of differentiating and comparing exilic communities and their cultural expressions. Theatre and the performing arts have played an important role in the imaginations of the exiled, the obliqueness of the exilic experience, as well as the collective and individual traumas of ostracism in the face of democracies and institutions that have become fragile, instable, or dysfunctional. Fictionalization of the exilic position in creative (play)writing has not only been done by exiled artists but also by those who have witnessed the new waves of immigrants. Thus, we can ask ourselves the following questions: What are the accepted stories of exile that make it to the stage and institutions; and what are the counternarratives of exile to our present nation-states? In this context, theatre and the performing arts are crucial for redefining the difficult nexus between exile and (neo)nationalism.

The recent rise of the political far right and populism both in Europe and across the globe is  demonstrated by a range of phenomena, including the Brexit movement in the UK, the Front National (FN) in France, the Alternative for Germany (AFD), the successes of the extreme right-wing Jobbik party and Viktor Orbán’s national-conservative Fidesz party in Hungary, the recent electoral victory of Geert Wilders’ Forum for Democracy (FvD) in the Netherlands, Vladimir Putin’s recent turn to militarization and fascism, and various others can be added. These political and societal changes position theatre and performance arts at the forefront of cultural resistance, resilience, and mediation. In times of often government-endorsed xenophobia, racism, and nationalist sentiments, theatre and performing artists are increasingly urged to address this ‘political turn’ and examine alternatives of ethical, political, and artistic response-ability. Through different aesthetic ways, one could say, they react to the ‘biopower’ (Foucault 1978) that connects the brutality of the nation-state with the infatuation for racism.

Nevertheless, many European theatre companies and institutions find themselves at the slippery crossroads between the state funding they receive, the political mandate they must carry, and the ethical, political, and artistic positions put forward by their government-appointed artistic directors and/or teams. These complicities have recently become even more difficult to navigate when funding is cut because of ideological disputes against the hegemony of a state apparatus.

Following these observations and thoughts, we invite essays (max. 9.000 words) along the next four lines of inquiry:

  1. What constitutes the complicity and/or ‘response-ability’ of art institutions in the triangle between ideological pluralism, funding structures, and works of exilic or migrant theatre practitioners? Who is privileged? How can one ‘play (within) the system’?
  2. How do theatre and the performing arts play a role in representative claim-making of artists in exile vis-à-vis their home countries, ‘Europe’, and/or their newly receiving localities? How has the idea of a collective identity as a form of nationhood changed over the last fifty years in Europe and beyond, and how does theatre help to imagine, remember, commemorate, rebuild, or deconstruct these identities?
  3. How does the exilic position help to question the nexus of cosmopolitanism and migration versus debates on postcolonialism, decoloniality, and imperialism?
  4. How does the aesthetics of the ‘exilic performative’ expose, resist, resignify, or perhaps reproduce rhetorical devices of populism, (micro)nationalism, and nationhood?

Submissions may include but are not limited to these questions. Please indicate one or two theoretical frameworks from which you want to develop your line of argument. We welcome submissions on the current situation which may include comparative, post- and decolonial, and intersectionalist approaches, possibly building further on concepts from political sociology, cultural studies, cultural heritage, migration and exile studies. We are also interested in theatre-historical analyses since the fall of the Berlin Wall or the dissolution of the Soviet Union as significant historical milestones, yet any topics that go further back in history will be taken into consideration too. If relevant, we would appreciate a note of self-positionality indicating the relationship with the topic of the proposed essay.

Proposal submissions:

Proposals should be written in UK English, in MS Word format, and be between 500 and 700 words. Please include a brief bio (max. 100 words) in your proposal submission and send it by email to the guest editors (see contacts below) by 1 August 2024. Proposals must be based on original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.

Proposals should specify in which language the article will be submitted. EJTP is open to articles written in the language of the author’s preference, but please note that for all articles written in languages other than English contributors will be asked to secure professional proof-reading.

If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit a first draft of your article by 1 November 2024. The maximum length of the final article should not exceed 9.000 words (including abstract in English and in at least one additional language, references, author bio, etc.). Submitted articles will undergo a double-blind peer-review process by two anonymous experts.

Prospective authors should make sure their submitted articles are in accordance with the EJTP Author Guidelines, which can be downloaded here: https://journal.eastap.com/submission-guidelines/.

For more information on the European Journal of Theatre and Performance, please visit: https://journal.eastap.com.

Schedule:

Proposals:       1 August 2024 (note of acceptance by 20 July 2024)

First Drafts:     1 November 2024

Peer Review:   15 December 2024

Second Drafts: 1 February 2025

Final Drafts:    1 March 2025

Publication:     May 2025

 

Contacts:

Issue-related inquiries and proposal submissions should be sent to the issue’s guest editors:

Yana Meerzon, (University of Ottawa): ymeerzon@uottawa.ca;

Pieter Verstraete (University of Groningen): p.m.g.verstraete@rug.nl.

 

Relevant Literature

Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso)

Aprile, Sylvie. 2010. Le siècle des exilés. Bannis et proscrits de 1789 à la Commune

(Paris, CNRS éditions)

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. by Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanfard, CA: Stanford University Press)

—  2000. Liquid Modernity (Hoboken: Wiley)

—  2004. Wasted Lives. Modernity and Its Outcasts (Cambridge: Polity Press)

—  2011. Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Cambridge: Polity Press)

Brecht, Bertolt. 1967. ‘Über die Bezeichnung Emigranten’, in Gesammelte Werke in 20 Bänden, by Bertolt Brecht, ed. by Hauptmann Elisabeth (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag), p. 718

Butler, Judith. 2004. Precarious Life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence (New York: Verso)

Diaz, Delphine, and Sylvie Aprile. 2021. Les Réprouvés. Sur les routes de l’exil dans l’Europe du XIXe siècle (Paris: Éditions de la Sorbonne)

Foucault, Michel. [1976] 1978. The History of Sexuality. Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. by Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books)

Gilroy, Paul. 1995. ‘Route Work: The Black Atlantic and the Politics of Exile’, in The Postcolonial Question: Common Skies, Divided Horizons, ed. by Iain Chambers, and Lidia Curti (London: Routledge), pp. 17-29

Meerzon, Yana. 2012. Performing Exile – Performing Self: Drama, Theatre, Film (Houndmills, Basingstoke, and Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan)

Reinelt, Janelle. 2015. ‘Performance at the Crossroads of Citizenship’, The Grammar of Politics and Performance, ed. by Shirin M. Rai and Janelle Reinelt (Abingdon and New York: Routledge)

Said, Edward. 2000. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press)

Verstraete, Pieter. 2023. ‘Exiled Lives on the Stage: Support Networks and Programs for Artists at Risk from Turkey in Germany’, Open Research Europe, 3, no. 109, 6 July, pp. 1-12 https://open-research-europe.ec.europa.eu/articles/3-109 [accessed 1 June 2024]