Performance and the Body 2017 (retitled Bodies and Performance)

Full Name: Claire Hampton

Annual Conference Theme (if applicable):

What were the main points that emerged from your WG this year?
The working group included a broad range of papers that defined, critiqued and interrogated populism in multiple ways. Delegates offered  analyses of  diverse performance practices that ranged from  protest, craftivism, scenographic activism, body building, baking and martial arts to  ‘age transvestism’, carnivalesque performance and disco dancing.  Over the course of 3 days the group considered  resistive / resistant bodies, bodies of/ in protest, playful bodies and regulated bodies along with ethics, rupture, excess, dissensus and politics. Debate and  deliberation was energetic, critical and rigorous following all of the panels and conversation felt urgent, relevant and timely. Some of the key themes  to emerge were:

  • in/ authenticity  and beyond authenticity. Janet O’Shea noted that there has been good work in ‘undoing’ authenticity but also that we still risk rerunning binaries and so we need to differentiate between the reality of lived experience and their representation. How do we ‘repurpose’ these contested terms?
  • Who constructs the narratives we engage with – how can we problematise this?
  • Agency  – who has it and why?
  • Relationships to power
  • Care / giving; conviviality and the politics of care. Caoimhe Esther Kriemhild Mader McGuinness noted the gendering and radicalisation in the politicisation and the labour of care. 
  • Orientation and Worlding; who does it? How? Why?
Other themes for future conferences included a consideration of one specific part/ element / function of the body, e.g. a conference about Blood / Feet / Skin etc.

What was discussed at your business meeting?

  • Delegates commented that the working group had offered an exciting and robust conference with consistently excellent papers.
  • Patrick Duggan and Royona Mitra announced that they will be stepping down from their position as Working Group conveners. Claire Hampton will continue in position and be joined by Broderick Chow and Victor Ladron de Guevara.
  • Discussed a shift in the title of the working group to ‘Performance and Bodies’ in order to clearly represent the the plurality inherent in the groups ethos and scholarship. A need to return to ‘what do we mean when we speak about bodies?’ was identified. The group has now been retitled ‘Bodies and Performance’ as we feel this configuration foregrounds the groups primary concern with bodies ( in all of their plurality).  
  • There was discussion regarding possible publication platforms for the range of important and timely work produced in the response to this years CFP ‘Performance, Politics, Populism’. Broderick Chow suggested that we could consider proposing a special edition of CTR ‘Interventions’ (possibly Feb 2019).
  • Arabella Stanger noted that this WG has really reiterated the usefulness and importance of performance to theorising the social.
  • Jenny Lawson noted the usefulness of the CFP this year in recalibrating ways of thinking about performance (and her research in particular).
  • Interim events – following the success of the 2017 interim event the WG is keen to propose another. Broderick Chow will liaise with Janet O’Shea regarding a proposal for 2018.

Types of contributions:
Papers (unfortunately the delegate presenting via a performance workshop had to withdraw)

Number of formal contributors (those listed in book of abstracts) 14

Approx. overall number of delegates who attended your WG Sessions A core group of approx 17 with 35 present at the open panel session
Composition of WG (PG, ECR, etc.)
PG, ECR, MCR and senior academics including Professors

Did you have any non-UK participants? Yes

If your WG hosted an Open Panel, do you have any feedback?

The open panel, ‘Bodies at Play: Reimagining Place, People and the Power of Performance in a Populist Climate’, included papers by Professor Janet O’Shea, Professor Adrian Kear and Dr. Arabella Stanger. The three presentations drew on a range of performance contexts including martial arts, disco dancing and the politics of theatricality.  The session was extremely well attended which led to robust, critical and lively conversation following the three presentations, where the WG’s main theme of populism was interrogated and debated. However, there were more delegates than seats which is something that needs to be considered for future conferences.

Any additional points or feedback not covered above?

We would like to thank Salford University and all those involved in the organisation of this years conference; it was convivial, energetic (glittery!) and a good time was had by all.

Claire, Broderick and Victor would also like to officially thank Royona and Patrick for their commitment and dedication as WG convenors. We will do our best to continue to make the group a place of diversity and criticality.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.