Call for IFTR 2018

30 December, 2017 | 0 comments

Call for IFTR 2018

Invitation for papers that investigate the ways in which theatre, performance, and performativity are bound up with questions of migration, exchange, and understanding of the other.

Historically, religion and spirituality have shown a disrespect for political and geographical borders. Religious ideas and spiritual experiences are carried from place to place by texts, missionaries, objects, prophets, relics, technology, forms of worship, and other performances. In these new places, they encounter, learn from, and compete with one another; they adapt, change, and are re-used (or mis-used) in contexts their founders could not have imagined. They defy the bounds of time, as they are carried across the centuries by the prevailing practices we know as traditions; or it happens that old ways and concepts are rediscovered or reinvented for the new times. Because of the way in which religion and spirituality gesture towards the transcendence of boundaries, disrespect and endurance are unsurprising and productive.

And yet, religion and spirituality are key markers of a particular identity. They can give substance to both our place as humans in the world, but also our particular situation as individuals and societies with a place and a history. Faith can encourage the reification of distinctions between believer and infidel, professional and layman, fellow-participant and foreigner, and even genuine persons and something less than that. Religious and spiritual performances can both humanise and demonise the other. They can transcend borders, but they can erect them as well.

Further, religion and spiritual performances can gesture to a sense in which the refugee, the traveller, the sojourner, or the migrant can serve as key organising tropes for our own self- understanding. If our lives on earth are only a part of our larger human journey, this may affect the way we understand our kinship to, relationships with, and obligations toward our fellow human beings or the planet.

We welcome particular case studies that address these issues (whether or not they come from the traditional structures of theatre or religion), papers which examine religious and spiritual understandings or expressions of the concept and reality of migration, or performance work that address the challenges to identity, communal life, and religious diversity that migration occasions.

Topics covered might include, but are in no way limited to:

Missionary performance
Performance and diasporic religious identity
Exile or migration and performance
Performance as a means of bridging (or reinforcing) religious divisions The religious other as dealt with in performance
Performative assertions of religious community
Performances of expulsion and excommunication
Spiritual journeying through performance
The migration of forms and concepts of religious performance across time
The performative formation or re-formation of religious identity
Religious and performative political interventions into debates surrounding migration The performance use of space with respect to religious or spiritual identity.
Interreligious dialogue and performance
Performance and religious empire
The use of technology in response to religious migration or exile

We welcome both new and current group members, from graduate students to senior scholars, to submit proposals or to participate as discussants. We are particularly keen to ensure the group’s membership reflects the geographic and theoretical diversity of the IFTR. This working group is open to members from all national and cultural backgrounds, and it interests itself in all the world’s religious, spiritual and performative traditions. Both religion and performance are, in our view, sets of social and cultural practices that have a profound and long-lasting importance to those involved in them. Because these practices are so important, we are committed to a nonsectarian inquiry of them. We assume no particular faith or religious affiliation for our members or our work.

Submitted abstracts should be between 250 and 300 words, and should include a brief biography. The group’s working language is English.

Abstracts are due no later than 15 January 2018.
Notice on acceptance will be given by 15 February 2018
Finalized papers for Belgrade are to be submitted by email by 1 June 2018.

Papers will then be distributed to the groups’ members for discussion about a month before the conference. Rather than reading out papers in Belgrade, we expect participants (including discussants) to read them in advance so that we can maximise the time we have available for discussion.

Abstracts should be submitted through Cambridge Core, and requires membership in the IFTR. Full details are available on the IFTR conference website at Please note that accepted abstracts will be published in the conference’s Abstracts Book. Additional information such as the form the proposed submission will take, or information about available dates, should be included on the online form under ‘Equipment required.’ Should this prove insufficient, additional information should be emailed (no attachments, please) to before the 15 January deadline.

All questions or concerns should be sent to the group’s conveners, Joshua Edelman (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Kim Skjoldager-Nielsen (Stockholm University) at 

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