18 November, 2018 by Johnmichael Rossi | 0 comments


Performance as Research Working Group Call for Abstracts International Federation for Theatre Research Annual Conference at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, Shanghai, China 8-12 July 2019


 “Epistemic freedom is about democratising ‘knowledge’ from its current rendition in the singular into its plural known as ‘knowledges’... Epistemic freedom is foundational in the broader decolonisation struggle because it enables the emergence of the necessary critical decolonial consciousness” (Ndoluvu-Gatsheni: 2018).



Since its inception in 2004, the Performance-as-Research Working Group announced PaR as a powerful, alternative methodology for conducting research with the promise of an epistemic shift by being a ‘different modality of knowing’. Over the years there has been a gradual acceptance of PaR, and its various iterations, into the university in a significant number of departments across the world with many researchers and students practising PaR. As PaR seems to blend into curriculum and pedagogy the Working Group wishes to acknowledge and address two vital projects that thinkers and practitioners in the field are invited to engage with: 1) questions of the practice and philosophy of PaR as a pedagogy and 2) it’s undervalued potential to engage with the question of decoloniality.



The PaR Working Group invites proposals from PaR practitioners interested in questions of decoloniality and pedagogies through PaR and encourages returning members and potential new members to consider the following questions that will guide participation in our annual 'participatory laboratory'. We are interested in learnings that may also have emerged from models that were not ‘successful’:




1) What are the multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary potentialities of PaR especially with other disciplines engaged with ‘writing practice’ and with alternate forms of knowledge? What can PaR contribute to the ‘transdisciplinarization’ of knowledge beyond and within the academy?




2) What kind of futures can be imagined concerning the various trajectories of PaR based on specific geographical and methodological legacies? How are these reflected in the pedagogy or institutionalization of PaR?




3) In what ways can PaR be applied as a method for decolonising research? Or, how might does the methodology itself function as a mode of innovation to established norms for what constitutes research in the academy?




4) What might constitute the rigour of PaR pedagogy in an emerging field of knowledge proposed initially as the third paradigm of research (Haseman:2006)? What have been the ways that assessment parameters have made way for this? What have been some of the failures?




5) Given that an important aspect of decoloniality within research is also in how power and knowledge operate, are there ways that PaR explore body, memory, time, the city, the environment that allows for knowledges to emerge that are relationally developed from a different standpoint?



We ask applicants to clearly indicate which of the questions in the call they would like to investigate.




We invite abstracts which respond to this call and the deadline for abstract submissions is 7 January 2019 (please check the IFTR website in case the deadline is extended). All applicants should follow the instructions regarding abstract submission through the conference website:


Please note that the deadline for the IFTR bursary application is 20 November 2018, and can be found on the conference website.



The group welcomes those working in multiple and mixed artistic practices involving dance, theatre, performance art, live art and socially engaged practices as well as other types of cultural performances and performative practices. It also welcomes thinkers and practitioners involved in the question of writing from practice and developing pedagogic epistemic models to accommodate plural ways of knowing interested in the legacy of PaR in this discourse.



The PaR Working Group can accommodate up to 30 participants, who have multiple options for engagement:



1)    DOCUMENTED WORKSHOP: Participants have the option of taking part in the collaborative creation of a documented workshop process. Based upon the initial submission of individual workshop ideas, groups will be formed to complete a structured pre-conference process of materials exchange, online discussion and exploration, and workshop planning, leading to a 45 - 60 minute PaR interactive session onsite in Shanghai.



2)    PERFORMANCE CONVERSATION: Participants have the option of taking part in the facilitation of performative conversation circulating around the paper proposals of the individual members who will form a group and participate in an online pre-conference dialogue and sharing of research leading to a 60-minute group presentation in Shanghai. This can mean that a written paper is submitted to the subgroup for circulation before hand.







1)    To be considered for participation within PERFORMANCE CONVERSATION please submit an abstract (250-300 words) responding to one or more of the questions raised in this call. Please include a 100 word bio and full contact information.




2)    To be considered for participation in the DOCUMENTED WORKSHOP, please submit a practical workshop proposal (250 - 300 words) that explores one or more of the questions raised in this call. The proposal should include a clear description of the workshop process and objectives, as well as an explanation of how the exercise(s) reflect your current PaR priorities and preoccupations. 


As noted above, these proposals will be used as the basis of the formation of sub-groups tasked with the creation and facilitation of collaborative workshop designs that reflect the intersection of participants’ interests. Once sub-groups are formed, participants will receive a proposed framework for pre-conference exchange and workshop development.

All proposals should be sent via the Cambridge University Press website by 7 January 2019.

Please copy your proposal to

We look forward to your responses to this call. Please forward any queries you might have to the above email.



PaR Working Group Co-Conveners:

Johnmichael Rossi, Manola Gayatri & Bruce Barton




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