Call for Papers: Theatre and the Nomadic Subject

26 November, 2013

Call for Papers

A Mobile Train Conference
Helsinki to Rovaniemi, 7-11 April 2014

Deadline for proposals: 1 December 2013

The concept of a train conference from Helsinki to Rovaniemi conjures up a number of images: long distance high-speed travel; extreme weather conditions; Sami people herding reindeer across vast terrain; the land of the midnight sun and northern lights.

A nomadic existence can be caused by climate, agricultural conditions, war, economic necessity, victimization, cultural values, and hopes for a better life. For those fleeing from difficult circumstances, the receiving culture may be as forbidding as what has been left behind. As the world speeds up with globalization, the internet, and electronic publishing, and we cope with multiple time zones simultaneously, this conference asks who can keep up and who has been left behind, what new forms of subjectivity and what kinds of multiple identities are emerging.

As a touring industry that specialises in ephemeral performance and changing cultural values, theatre enables many forms of mobility and becomings, both on and off the stage. In this conference we aim to highlight our travelling environment as a vehicle to focus on notions of nomadic subjectivity (Braidotti) and deterritorialization (Deleuze). Theatre has often represented the nomad, from Aeschylus’s Suppliants about women fleeing from a gang of marauding men, to the wandering of Oedipus at Colonus, from King Lear’s disorientation on the heath to the peregrinations of Grusha in the Caucasian Chalk Circle. More recently we have seen foundering boat people in Ariane Mnouchkine’s Le Dernier Caravansérail, Alice’s search for her father across Europe in Complicite’s Mnemonic, and asylum seekers sheltering in an industrial container in Christoph Schlingensief’s Bitte liebt Östereich.

For this mobile event, we are keen to attract  theatre scholars to contribute papers relating theatre and performance to such topics as:

Nomadic theory
Cultural transformation

Delegates will board the conference car of the train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi on 7 April and remain in Rovaniemi for the rest of the week. Papers will be presented on board the train as well as in the University of Lapland. The conference car on the train can hold up to 30 passengers and so there will be a limit on those who can participate in this part of the conference. Additional delegates can participate in the sessions in Rovaniemi.

Subsidy is being sought for the conference and so the costs for the conference (train, registration fee, and accommodation) will be advertised once the results of the applications for subsidy are known (hopefully by the middle of November). In addition to the train conference, there will be sessions in the University of Lapland, as well as a theatre performance and engagement with touring theatre artists in Rovaniemi, and a visit to the Arctic Centre.

Please send 200-300 word abstracts and a short CV to Laura Gröndahl ( at the University of Lapland by 1 December 2013. Decisions will be made by 15 January 2014. The conference is supported by the Association of Nordic Theatre Scholars and the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland. Selected papers will be printed in a special guest issue of Nordic Theatre Studies in 2015.

The conference organizers will provide accommodation for three nights in Rovaniemi and one-way travel from Helsinki to Rovaniemi at a cost of 300 €.

(Participants will also need to arrange their own accommodation on 6 April in Helsinki and their travel back from Rovaniemi on 10 April.)

Organising committee:

Laura Gröndahl, University of Lapland
Pirkko Koski, University of Helsinki
Anneli Saro, University of Tartu, Estonia
Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen, University of Stockholm, Sweden
Jurgita Staniskyte, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania
Steve Wilmer, Trinity College Dublin

Julia Pajunen, University of Helsinki

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