TaPRA 2020, 2 – 4 September, Liverpool Hope University, Performance Identity and Community Working Group CfP: Performance, Redress and Reparation

Deadline: Friday 17 April 2020

What does reparations mean within the context of UK theatre and performance studies? What might a redressed theatre and performance studies discipline look like?
This year’s meeting of the Performance, Identity and Community working group draws together threads of conversation from across TaPRA’s recent conferences concerning access, participation and the project of decolonising theatre and performance studies. It acknowledges the rich diversity of approaches in thinking about performance in the contemporary moment – whether in relation to history and futurity, or optimism and anarchy, as in some of the PIC group’s most recent gatherings – and the ways in which performance produces and is produced by communities of different kinds.
This valuable work suggests that our primary challenge is not an absence of critiques of dominant institutions or frameworks for knowledge. Recurring conversations across individual working groups and TaPRA as a whole also demonstrate a widespread desire to foster and amplify the voices of research subjects and communities who have been systematically marginalised, and to engage with complex questions of social justice, equality and reparation. Yet, our discipline can seem to replicate marginalising structures, valorise hegemonic approaches, and reward disciplinary conservatism.
So what are we doing? What are the actions – manifest in both performance and research – that might serve the ambition of equality as a practice rather than a principle? What does reparations mean within the context of UK theatre and performance studies? What might a redressed theatre and performance studies discipline look like?
– How can performance which addresses questions of identity and community help us to confront and disrupt engrained habits of power, and the hierarchies which they foster and sustain?
– How can research which engages with this body of work make new arguments for alternative forms of social impact, beyond the narrow expectations of REF?
– How might we avoid the recuperation of reparations from ‘recovery’ and ‘healing’ that Bergin and Rupprecht (2016) critique as ‘neutralising the past’? How does performance reinvigorate the past in the present? How are artists exploring these considerations through the space of form/ language/ aesthetics or relationship with audience?
In raising these questions, we are interested in identifying the particular, potential contribution of research concerning identity and community to disciplinary-wide projects of change (e.g. work by Sylvan Baker, Sruti Bala, Broderick Chow, Jerri Daboo, Royona Mitra, Pratharna Purkayastha and others concerning interculturalism and the decolonisation of dance and performance studies). What is the history of this effort in our discipline, prior to its naming? What can ‘we’ do, and who is imagined to be involved and/or responsible in that question?
Your approach to these questions may be inflected by these issues:
– genealogies (Selina Thompson)
– reparations as payment (Coates, 2014)
– irrecoverable loss (Saidiya Hartman, 2007; 2008)
– trauma (Hughes, 2007; Humphrey, 2002; Stuart Fisher, 2011)
– anti-imperial amnesia (Priyamvada Gopal, 2007; 2016)
– apology (Schmidt, 2010)
– Race and structural racism (Eddo-Lodge, 2017)
– radical black tradition (Fred Moten, Tavia Nyong’o, Alexander Weheliye, Amiri Baraka)
– abolition & activism (Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Angela Davis)
– truth & reconciliation (Catherine Cole, Allen Feldman, 2003)
– Representations beyond ‘scenes of subjection’ (Hartman, 1997; Aranke & Sparks, 2017)
– Epistemologies of the South (Santos, 2019)
Commitment to accessibility in the discipline
The PIC WG is interested in hearing from a wide range of researchers – established, emerging and post-graduate, whether working in institutions or independently. We’re conscious that this call is expansive and that there are lots of different ways that it might be addressed – so please do get in touch if you have an idea that you think might be developed for this year’s meeting. We are especially interested in hearing from researchers who have not previously presented at the group, and from those who are currently underrepresented across TaPRA as a whole. If you’d like to discuss an initial proposal to the working group, please email us (Ally, Lynette and Steve) at pic@tapra.org no later than TWO WEEKS before the submission deadline so we can offer some thoughts or arrange a chat.
Selected sources
Bergin, C., & Rupprecht, A. (2016) History, agency and the representation of ‘race’ – an introduction. Race & Class, 57(3), 3–17.
Coates, T. (2014) ‘The Case for Reparations’ The Atlantic. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
Gilmore, R.W. (2002) Fatal Couplings of Power and Difference: Notes on Racism and Geography, The Professional Geographer, 54(1): pp.15-2.
Gopal, P. (2007) It is contradictory to condemn slavery and yet celebrate the empire. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/apr/02/comment.race
Gopal, P. (2016) Redressing anti-imperial amnesia. Race & Class, 57(3), 18–30.
Hartman, S.V. (1997). Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth- Century America. New York: Oxford University Press.
McKenzie, J. (2006) Is Performance Studies Imperialist? TDR: The Drama Review 50(4): pp.5-8.
Nyong’o, T. (2019) Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life. New York: New York University Press.
Rai, A.S. (2012) Race racing: Four theses on race and intensity. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, 40(1): pp. 64-75.
Santos, B.S (2019) Towards an Aesthetics of the Epistemologies of the Global South: Manifesto in Twenty-Two Theses, pp. 117-125. Knowledges Born in the Struggle: Constructing the Epistemologies of the Global South. Edited by B.S Santos & P. Meneses. London: Routledge
Coronavirus Disclaimer
Whilst we are continuing to make plans for the Annual TaPRA Conference to go ahead as scheduled at LHU in September, we are also working on contingency arrangements should government advice restrict large gatherings. We will keep all members informed of any changes.
Process for submitting a proposal
Please send a 300 word (max) proposal and short biography to the Working Group Convenors, Ally, Lynette and Steve, at pic@tapra.org by 23.59 on 17 April 2020.
Originally proposals were due by 9th April, however due to the recent UCU strike action and the rapidly evolving situation regarding Covid-19 we are extending the proposal submission deadline until Friday 17th April.
Please include an optional 2nd choice of Working Group (this can also include the TaPRA Gallery, where appropriate). If we are unable to accept your proposal, we will then pass it on to your 2nd choice for consideration. Your proposal will not be less likely to be accepted by our Working Group if you indicate a 2nd choice.
Please note: You may only submit a proposal to one working group (or else the PaR Gallery) for this conference, proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.
Working Group Convenors will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted as quickly as possible, and will offer brief summary feedback to all proposals that could not be accommodated. If we have passed your proposal on to your 2nd choice of Working Group, we will let you know this as well. Please note that putting together a full draft schedule for the conference is a complex process, and therefore your patience while this process is ongoing, and prompt responses to acceptances are much appreciated. Convenors will have completed their draft schedules by 18 May 2020.
Conference Costs
The early bird registration fee for this year’s conference will be £215 (standard) and £112 (concession), including TaPRA membership for the year, rising to £245 (standard) and £142 (concession) after 19th June.
It will also be possible to register for a ‘half conference’ – that is, Day 1 to after lunch Day 2; OR all of Day 2; OR from 4pm on Day 2 & all of Day 3. ‘Half conference’ fees are: £125 (standard) and £65 (concession), rising to £140 (standard) and £79 (concession) after 19th June.
All of the above conference fees include TaPRA membership for one year (starting on 2 September 2020).
On-campus conference accommodation will cost no more than £50 per night. The conference dinner will cost £40 (£35 for concession delegates booking in the early bird period).
Please note: All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.
Concession definition:
Concession rates apply to all postgraduate researchers, unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than .6FTE or else fixed for less than 12 months. These categories apply to the attendee’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.
There will be up to 5 bursaries available for postgraduate researchers and up to 3 available for unaffiliated presenters/contingent faculty. These are highly competitive and so we would encourage everyone who is able to secure institutional support where possible.
Each bursary includes: Conference fee waiver and one year of TaPRA membership; up to £300 toward travel, accommodation, childcare or access costs (the TaPRA Administrator will book accommodation; travel fees or access costs can be reclaimed quickly on production of receipts).
You must submit your application for a bursary at the same time as your proposal to the Working Group (as a separate document). Please note that PG students will require a supporting statement from their supervisor or programme leader, which may take extra time to source. Full details, criteria, and application forms are available on the TaPRA website (http://tapra.org/bursaries/).

Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.

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