Performance, Politics, Power
The Cultural Studies Association (CSA) invites proposals for participation in its seventeenth annual meeting. Proposals on all topics relevant to cultural studies will be considered, with priority given to proposals that engage this year's highlighted theme. Membership of the CSA is not required to apply for this year’s conference, but membership is required in order to present at the conference.
For our 2019 conference, entitled “Performance, Politics, Power,” we solicit proposals that focus on performance as a creative and critical force within contemporary culture(s) and their antecedents. Within the U.S. and beyond, the past few years have been a turbulent and reactionary period of social and political realignment. However, this realignment has also elicited renewed progressive political activity and cultural engagement, such as public performances against racial and gender discrimination, or overt popular protests against quietist notions of political “civility,” as occurred in the U.S. in response to the Trump Administration’s child separation policy or Executive Order 13769, colloquially referred to as the “Muslim Ban.” Performance has also been central to the ongoing practice of identity politics and its uneasy centrality within the media industries. To this end, we encourage proposals that investigate and consider new forms of performance that have emerged as a means of pushing back against the politics of division and fear, and how past intersections between performance and power help us reconsider the politics of performance today. How, for instance, might already-existing forms of performance be “refunctioned” (Umfunktionierung) as strategized by German Marxist playwright and poet, Bertolt Brecht? This theme is especially significant while the CSA is in New Orleans, given the city’s unique history of using performance, carnival, and other forms of transculturation as a means of engaging and resisting colonial rule, slavery, oppression, conflict, and discrimination, from the city’s founding as a former French colony in the eighteenth century to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
While we welcome proposals concerned with all types of artistic performance, our interest in performance is by no means confined to traditional activities within the performing arts. We are also interested in performance as the enactment of new political personae in the “theatrum mundi” (society as theater), and the growing utility of all such performative gestures for fostering solidarity and democracy. Likewise, we welcome proposals that question the limits of performance as a framework for enacting politics, or those that explore the history of performance not only as a mode of challenging social power, but also as a means of expressing and consolidating power. And as with past conferences, we welcome proposals from all disciplines and topics relevant to cultural studies, including literature, history, sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, communications, popular culture, cultural theory, queer studies, critical race studies, feminist studies, postcolonial studies, legal studies, science studies, media and film studies, material culture studies, platform studies, affect studies, visual art and performance studies.