TaPRA 2022, 12–14 September, University of Essex, Performance, Identity and Community Working Group CfP: (Queer) diasporas: Methods, modes and movements

Deadline: Friday 1 April 2022

In the Performance, Identity, Community WG, we are looking to build on some of the work done in past years (utopia, 2009; frames of legibility, 2017; anarchy & desire, 2018; performance, futurity & progress, 2019; and redress & reparation, 2021), extending our understanding to methods, modes and movements of (queer) diaspora through a number of different perspectives.

Taking as a starting point TaPRA 2021 keynote speaker Kareem Kubchandani’s offering of ‘Auntologies’ queer aesthetics of South Asian Aunty as a disruption, we are interested in exploring further how (queer) diasporas are formed and performed. Naming the connections between scholarship, activism and artistry, Jerafi Allen (2012) calls for the study of queer/diaspora to ‘interrogate dynamic unsettled subjects whose bodies, desires, and texts move’ (2012: 215). By bringing together ‘queer’ and ‘diaspora’, we are interested in movement and emplacement but also relationality (Allen, 2012), as we look for papers that explicitly address how moving between margins and centres in content, form, aesthetics and modalities (in)forms our scholarly labour.

This appeal to politics and identity is championed by bell hooks, as she promotes the need to challenge ‘imperial heteropatriarchal white supremacy’ and how this ties into an activist quest for change. We are also interested in her expansive view of ‘queer’ as a practice of freedom from a 2014 talk:

‘Queer’ not as being about who you’re having sex with (that can be a dimension of it); but ‘queer’ as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and that has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live (hooks, 2014, citing Tim Dean).

David Eng reminds us that ‘Home is not private, as theorized under liberalism. Instead, it is a crucial public site of labor within the global restructuring of capitalism’ (2010: 203). This is particularly the case under conditions of Brexit, in which Tory legislators have produced a regressive Nationality and Borders Bill (Dec 2021). In the conjecture of post-Brexit Britain, we note too that protest has been ever more restricted (Police, Crime, Sentencing Bill 2021). These contexts of public gatherings, protest movements, performances and theatres resist binary counterpoints of ‘state’ and ‘citizen’. How might (queer) diasporic approaches re-animate critical perspectives on the trouble of nation, home, belonging? We thus invite papers that consider the tendencies toward UK/ English exceptionalism; arguments that explore how theatre and performance produce or address what Jasbir Puar calls ‘homonationalism’ (2007).

Reworking the ‘subjectless critique’ (Eng & Puar, 2020: 2) of queer theory in What’s Left of Queer, we encourage ‘identity’ questions to be firmly in mind. This suggests a consideration of centres and margins: when do we resist or refuse some of the subjects (or sites) of research and when might we travel between positions?

    Your paper might launch from one of the following:
  • Black/Global Majority/Afriquia theatres
  • LGBTQI+ rights in diasporic performance
  • refugee and asylum seeker rights & representations
  • Intersectionalities in theatre & performance
  • Political and/ or activist forms of theatre-making
  • social justice and environmental justice
  • mobilities and (in)justice
  • Police, crime, sentencing and courts bill (commonly referred to as the ‘protest bill’)
  • (Performance) methods, modes or movements

You may be thinking with:
Sara Ahmed, bell hooks, Ambalavaner Sivanandan, Jose Esteban Muñoz, Keguro Macharia, Rinaldo Walcott, Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, Saidiya Hartman, Lola Olufemi, Claudia Rankine, Patrick E. Johnson, Suhaiyma Manzoor-Khan, zethu Matebeni, Jack Halberstam, Tavia Nyong’o, H. Sharif ‘Herukhuti’ Williams, Judith Butler or Christina Sharpe.

We are keen to consider how non-canonical (non-academic) knowledges can be centred in analyses, so you may want to draw on some thinkers working beyond the academy.

Accountability statement

We aim to further embed learning from the 2021 conference which brought up the value of friendship as methodology, rooted in dialogue. To that end, Chela Sandoval builds towards a different modality of discourse that is grounded in relationality, in which ‘love can access and guide our theoretical and political movidas – revolutionary manoeuvres toward decolonized being’ (2000: 146). Our programming will seek to be generative of cross pollination and we aim to take time to generate conversational responses rather than a traditional ‘Q&A’.

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 welcome proposals for full papers (15-20 minutes) or hour-long panels, as well as presentations in alternative formats that attend to the potentials opened up by hybrid formats (e.g. pre-recorded presentations watched prior to ‘live’ discussion). 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 Hassan) at pic@tapra.org no later than ONE WEEK before the submission deadline so we can offer some thoughts or arrange a chat.

Some sources:
Ahmed, S. (2000) Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in post-coloniality. London: Routledge.
Ahmed, S. (2012) On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Durham: Duke University Press.
Case, S.E. & Abbitt, E.S. (2004) Disidentification, Diaspora, and Desire: Questions on the Future of the Feminist Critique of Performance. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 29(3), pp. 925-938.
Allen, J. S. (2012) Black/Queer/Diaspora at the Current Conjuncture. GLQ. 18 (2-3): pp. 211–248. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-1472872.
Eng, D.L (2010) Queering the Black Atlantic, Queering the Brown Atlantic. GLQ . 17: 203.
Gilroy, P. (1993) The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. London: Verso.
Hartman, S. (2019) Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval. London: W.W. Norton & Company.
hooks, bell. (1984/2014) Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Third Edition. London: Routledge.
Johnson, E.P. (2001) ’”Quare” studies, or (almost) everything I know about queer studies I learned from my grandmother,’ Text and Performance Quarterly, 21:1, 1-25, DOI: 10.1080/10462930128119.
Johnson, E.P. and Mae G. Henderson, eds. (2005) Black Queer Studies: A Critical Introduction. Durham: Duke University Press.
Matebeni, Z. (2014) Reclaiming Afrikan. Queer Perspectives on Sexual and Gender Identities. Athlone, SA: Modjaji Books.
Muñoz, J.E. (1999) Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Nyong’o, T. (2019) Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life. New York: New York University Press.
Sandoval, C. (2000) Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Sharpe, C. (2016) In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham: Duke University Press.
Spillers, H. (2003) Black, White, and In Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Wynter, S. (1994) No Humans Involved: An Open Letter to my Colleagues. Forum N.H.I: Knowledge for the 21st Century. 1(1): pp. 42–72.
Wynter, S. (2006) On How We Mistook the Map for the Territory, and Reimprisoned Ourselves in Our Unbearable Wrongness of Being, of Desêtre: Black Studies Toward the Human Project. In Not Only the Master’s Tools: African American Studies in Theory and Practice. L. R. Gordon and J. A. Gordon. (eds.), New York: Routledge, pp. 107–169.

Conference structure

The 2022 annual TaPRA conference at the University of Essex will be a hybrid event, facilitating participation by online delegates alongside those attending in-person.

The 2021 TaPRA conference demonstrated the many benefits of online conferencing; increased opportunity for international presenters, lower financial costs to participate, greater accessibility for those with caring responsibilities etc. The 2022 conference at Essex aims to retain the wider opportunities for engagement that online platforms offer, whilst also creating a space for in-person engagement and social interaction.

In the event of a cancellation of in-person conference activities due to, for instance, COVID restrictions, the event would run entirely online and all registered in person delegates would be offered the opportunity to attend as online delegates, with the difference between in-person and online registration fees refunded.

Process for submitting a proposal

Please email abstracts (no more than 300 words in length), and an additional few sentences of biographical information to the Working Group Convenors (pic@tapra.org) by 23.59 on 18 March 2022.

IMPORTANT: Please indicate at the point of submission if you intend to attend the conference in person or online. This information is vital so that the conference organisers can effectively plan the infrastructure for the event and Working Group Convenors can schedule panel sessions effectively.

You should also indicate if you have any specific requirements relating to space or AV technology as part of this submission.

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.

Timescale

Working Group Convenors will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted as quickly as possible and by no later than 22nd April 2022. Convenors will offer brief summary feedback to all proposals that could not be accommodated. ​​Please note that putting together a full draft schedule for the conference is a complex process, particularly as all sessions will need to be accessible to delegates attending in person and online. Therefore your patience while this process is ongoing, and prompt responses to acceptances, are much appreciated. Convenors will have completed their draft schedules by the end of May 2022.

Conference costs

The early bird registration fee will be:
£220 – standard in person attendance
£120 – concession in person attendance
£88 – online attendance
£48 – online concession attendance

Prices will increase to the following after 24th June 2022:
£250 – standard in person attendance
£150 – concession in person attendance
£100 – online attendance
£60 – online concession attendance

All of the above conference fees include TaPRA membership for one year (£35 standard / £17 concession) starting 12th September 2022.

​On-campus ​conference accommodation will cost no more than £55 per night.

The conference dinner will cost £45. There will also be an opportunity to donate towards a conference dinner fund for unwaged/unaffiliated colleagues and postgraduate researchers.

Please note: All presenters must be registered for the conference by 15th July 2022; this includes those presenting online.

Numbers for in-person attendance will be more limited in 2022 than previous years so we advise early booking.

If you have registered for in person attendance and find yourself unable to attend you will be able to access the conference as an online delegate but will not be eligible for a refund.

Concession definition:
Concession rates apply to all postgraduate researchers, unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than 0.6FTE or else fixed for less than 12 months. These categories apply to the attendee’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.

Bursaries

There will be up to 14 bursaries (one per working group) available for postgraduate researchers and 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 a conference fee waiver and one year of TaPRA membership. There is also a separate discretionary fund towards expenses and access costs such as travel, accommodation, digital access, childcare and so forth up to a maximum of £300 (justified and costed) per applicant. You must submit your application for a bursary at the same time as your proposal to the Working Group (within the same document as your abstract/bio).

If applying for a bursary, please include the following:

  • Whether you are applying as a postgraduate researcher OR unaffiliated presenter/contingent faculty
  • A statement of up to 100 words explaining why you are applying for the bursary
  • An outline of any expenses/access needs for which you would like to apply to the discretionary fund: what they are and costs

Decisions about bursaries will be made by 6th May and notifications will be issued shortly after. The criteria for awarding bursaries are:
1. Quality and strength of submitted abstract.
2. Strategic case made by the WG conveners outlining the significance of the applicant’s contribution to the WG sessions (connection to advertised theme, methodological approach, expected outcomes).

Conveners in each working group will consider applications according to the criteria above and will nominate one applicant to put forward for a bursary. Final decisions about awards, including requests for expenses and access costs, will be made by the TaPRA Executive Committee.

TaPRA at the University of Essex

For the 2022 conference, the Working Group sessions and Keynote talks will be located in the Essex Business School (EBS) on the Colchester campus; the UK’s first zero-carbon business school building, which features an indoor winter garden (https://www.eventessex.co.uk/portfolio/the-essex-business-school/). Working Group sessions will take place in Zoom-enabled lecture-room and classroom spaces in EBS, with live-streamed keynotes delivered from two large cutting edge Lecture Auditoriums. Live performance will be hosted at Essex’s on-campus Lakeside Theatre (https://lakesidetheatre.org.uk), which also has facilities to stream performances for those attending online. While the Practice-as-Research Gallery will be hosted in Essex’s iconic brutalist building, The Hexagon (https://www.eventessex.co.uk/portfolio/the-hexagon/), which sits in the heart of the University’s Green Flag Award-winning campus (https://www.essex.ac.uk/news/2021/10/13/green-flag-award-2021). The conference will have technical support from Essex’s AVS team, with training sessions provided for Working Group convenors in advance of the conference to support the delivery of blended WG sessions to mixed rooms of in-person/online delegates.

For those in-person delegates who wish to attend the conference meal, food will be served in the Garden Suite of Wivenhoe House, a beautiful 18th Century four-star hotel on campus (in walking distance of the Essex Business School). This hotel/restaurant is near the quayside village of Wivenhoe, and minutes away from Britain’s oldest recorded town, Colchester (https://www.wivenhoehouse.co.uk). The meal will be followed by a live DJ set after dinner.

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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