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Performance and Religion
CALL FOR PAPERS for the group's meeting in Barcelona, 22 to 26 July 2013
Performative Epistemologies of Spirituality
At the Performance and Religion Working Group's founding meeting at the IFTR 2011 conference in Osaka, it was decided to make the publication of an anthology the main output of the working group's four-year research plan. This work began at the group's first meeting at the IFTR conference in July 2012 in Santiago de Chile and continued at an ancillary meeting in September in London. The papers presented at both meetings discussed themes around the topic Performing Transcendence, and they now inform the basis for developing the publication. Paper proposals from both new and old members are welcomed.
Theatre inherently has the capacity to make present that which would otherwise be invisible to its audience. The characters of a dramatic text are brought to life, or a philosophical or political concept may be given perceptible form. Spiritual performances, whether they are theatrical, ritual or a blend of the two, equally deal with the invisible, but with a difference; they also potentially make the unknowable apprehensible to their participants, by, for instance, providing a means of access to inarticulable experiential dimensions of life labelled as the divine or the metaphysical. Rather than an effect of mimetic representation, this epistemological potential seems to lie in the performativity of the participatory event, i.e. what the participants are doing together in order to make present a notion of transcendence, or that which is greater than the individual. Thus the communicative levels of spiritual performances seem to depend on the participants' bodily or somatic engagement, which creates a sociality between them.
The working group is interested in proposals that interrogate ways that the unknowable can be made manifest in performance. Of particular interest are the experiential, social and political dimensions of attaining knowledge of the unknowable through performance. Proposals may deal with historical and contemporary performances of all the world's religious, spiritual, theatrical traditions and practices. Abstracts (ca. 250 words) will be accepted in English and French. The group's primary working language is English.
The following is the schedule for proposals for the meeting:
• Abstracts are due no later than 30 January 2013.
• Notice on acceptance will be given by 28 February 2013.
• Finalized papers are to be submitted by email by 15 June 2013.
• Papers will then be distributed to the groups' members for discussion about a month before the conference. In Barcelona, we will discuss the papers rather than taking time to read them out.
We welcome both new and current members to join the meeting, from graduate students to senior scholars. We are particularly keen to ensure the group's membership reflects the geographic and theoretical diversity of the IFTR. This 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.
Abstracts should be submitted through the IFTR's online system, managed by Cambridge Journals. Please visit http://journals.cambridge.org/action/memServHome?name=IFTR
For more information on the working group, please see our website: home.performanceandreligion.org
Performance and Religion
This working group examines the interconnection between the forms, institutions, practices, traditions and impulses of religion and theatrical performance. We are interested in the ways that performance and religion have come into conversation, cooperation and conflict, both historically and in the present.
We place our work at the intersection of the scholarly traditions of theatre studies and the study of religion. Both are committed to the critical inquiry of their material, and both are committed to the joint participation of scholars from all corners of the world. This group is open to members from all national and cultural backgrounds, and it interests itself in 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.
Topics of interest might include (but are not limited to):
• The use of performance within religious practices (i.e., ritual or spirituality) and its relationships to secular performance
• The interactions between structures of religious institutions and theatres, politically, economically, or legally
• Traditions of religious antipathy towards the theatre, and vice versa
• The secularity of performative aesthetics and ways in which this has been challenged
• Attempts to bridge religious divisions by means of performance
• The nature of the theatrical spectator compared to the religious worshipper or congregant, as well as the theatrical performer as compared to the religious practitioner or celebrant
• The transcendent or supernatural in performance
• A comparative analysis of religion and theatre as phenomenological and/or epistemological systems
• Religious performances, including as an ecological engagement or as a "theatre" of the oppressed