Call For Papers – IFTR Belgrade, 2018.

08 January, 2018

Institutions—Infrastructure – Interventions

The past year has seen an outburst of interest in the power relations that undergird working practices in the arts.  The ways in which work at the theatre has been inscribed with gendered hierarchies, vulnerability, violence and coercion have been a source of concern for feminist scholars for decades, but the recent explosion of ‘scandals’ surrounding the working practices of Hollywood and elsewhere, has drawn extensive public notice, raising questions of how work and power interrelate at the theatre. 

For IFTR Belgrade 2018, the Feminist Research Working group will consider the question of how gendered inequality and exploitation has been institutionalised within the field of theatre production, informing both the representations produced (or not produced) onstage, and systems of exploitative working relationships backstage.  We invite scholars to join us in considering the production of theatre in a broad historical and economic set of contexts.  We will be engaging with the legacies of feminist scholarship that has attended to the conditions of labour for theatre workers, from producers to performers to stagehands.  This consideration of labour also asks us to take up questions of public policy and how arts policy disciplines theatrical performance and the relations backstage that produce it. 

We welcome papers on a range of topics such as:

  •       What are the vulnerabilities of the gendered body onstage and off and what is its relationship to the broader cultural struggle around the determination and autonomy of women’s bodies?
  •       What is the history of the institution and the gendered relations that form institutional structures and practices?
  •       What is the broader relationship between women and public spaces/spheres, and how does this longer and wider history inform the role of women in the theatre?
  •       How have systems and institutions of arts funding, production and patronage contributed to a gendered hierarchy of theatre-making?
  •       How might we revisiting Radical Feminism and other feminist traditions in order to inform our response to backstage exploitation and harassment?
  •       How can debates around sexual exploitation avoid the fixity inscribed by cultures of ‘outrage’ in social media, and distinguish between outrage and anger?  What is the relationship between a scandal and a tipping point in this regard?
  •       How can codes of representation on the stage become responsive to working conditions backstage and vice versa?
  •       How do codes of ‘the professional’ and the ‘artist’ inform how power relations are formed in the theatre, and how have these codes been gendered historically?
  •       How do questions of exploitation and power vary culturally and historically, and is gender always the primary locus of exploitation at the theatre?
  •       What theoretical approaches enable us as scholars to engage with the lived realities of making feminist art?
  •       What forms of solidarity are valuable in the face of exploitation and harrassment: how can we maintain a balance between solidarity and the recognition of cultural, racial and economic difference?

Abstracts for the Feminist Research Working Group should be submitted through the Cambridge Journals Online pages by January 15th, 2018. For more information on this process, go to:

Please direct any questions you may have about the conference to

Our Process
The Feminist Research Working Group is composed of scholars from Sweden, India, Pakistan, Slovenia, Britain, China, Japan, South Korea, Chile, Spain, Germany, Brazil, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States. It works by circulating papers to members in advance of the conference. Those who have circulated papers are invited to speak for no more than five minutes, followed by fifteen minutes of responses and discussion by the whole group, who will have read the papers in advance. The twenty minute presentation and response format is structured to encourage cross-cultural exchange and we emphasise constructive participation, debate and feedback among our members.

The full text of the selected papers (no more than 3000 words) should be emailed to the conveners by for uploading into the group’s dropbox by 9th June 2018. For further information please do not hesitate to contact the conveners. You are reminded that in order to present your paper it is necessary to formally submit your abstract according to the guidelines on the conference website, register for the conference and to become a member of IFTR. You are also reminded that papers can be given to the working group or within the main conference, but you may not do both.



Professor Charlotte Canning, University of Texas Austin:

Dr Aoife Monks, Queen Mary University of London:

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