Call for Papers
What condition performance in the tropics? How does performance, in turn, condition or intersect with tropical life?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘the tropics’ as ‘the hottest area of the earth, between the Tropic of Cancer (23°26′12.7″ N) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26′12.7″ S)’. Here the sun hits the earth directly on its axial tilt, the rich biodiversity of the tropics accounting for more than 50% of all living species on the planet. Encompassing parts of North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia, the tropics make up 36% of the Earth's landmass and are home to about a third of the world's people, and rising.
The tropics are variously maritime, lowland and upland, wet and dry, rainforest and desert, remote rural area and crowded urban environment. These regions of the planet have for millennia shaped and been shaped by human labour and ingenuity, which has spurred growth and improvement in many areas from the state of the ecosystems to the human and physical infrastructures. In the tropics, people are immediate to their environment – clothing is light; street life constant; architecture porous. But they are always vulnerable: to extremes of weather, pollution, disease, and the lack of access to basic necessities like clean water and decent housing. State responses to these material conditions take the form of systems of surveillance and control that organize many aspects of social life – systems intensified under the various authoritarian states and populist and military regimes that characterise the political landscape. Other disciplinary regimes are to be found in the practice of religion and the observation of its various prohibitions and obligations, as well as in the thriving market economy that makes available a vast array of products to fashion and transform the tropical body, meeting its appetites and feeding its desires. All these can be thought as the material circumstances of tropical performances.
Discussions around ‘tropicality’ and its affinity with Orientalism that highlight difference (i.e., between tropical and non-tropical, between the tropics and the West) and court essentialist perspectives can be generative but also extremely difficult and problematic. Moreover, from a planetary perspective, such old binaries explode in the face of worsening /escalating conditions like the expansion of the tropics towards the poles due to global warming; political conflicts and governance issues; globalization, migration, and the flows and grips of digital transactions in a highly networked world.
Where is performance in all this? One answer is to say it is as ubiquitous as the tropics and the human and non-human inhabitants’ survival strategies on this belt of heat. Life in the tropics by itself gives rise to and conditions performance and shapes it. Or, we might more narrowly emphasize its civilizing role, recognizing how the refined traditions of court cultures present in some tropical areas and the self-improving ethos of performance have for centuries formed, constrained, or inspired tropical societies into otherwise impossible heights of physical and verbal expression, devotion, or self-actualisation. Then, again, we might think of performance in and of the tropics as being beyond language, where words like ‘tropical’ or ‘performance’ fail to express what is/are designated to be covered by the term and may in fact misrepresent the vastness for which or about which it seeks to speak in its countless iterations.
The conference theme Tropical Performances will open up discussion on the tropics and the tropical both as concept or discourse and as site for the emergence and persistence of performance, especially in terms expressed in local or vernacular articulations, understandings, and practices. How is the tropics or the tropical expressed, embodied, enacted? The conference invites reflections and investigations into the material and social conditions in which performance emerges, focusing on the material engagement that any performance in the tropics instantiates – with the land, the people, the flora and fauna, the mountains and seas, the climate, and the myriad contexts of habits, beliefs, and ways of life in these regions.
We invite proposals of panels, papers, performance presentations, and workshops involving scholarly and creative reflection on the subject of tropical performance as it applies to a wide range of performance studies topics, areas and contexts. These include, but are not limited to:
- Genealogies of tropical performance
- Performance, climate change, and the expanding tropics
- Disaster, precarity, resilience, and performance making in the tropics
- Energy, breath and qi, contagion and flow in tropical performance
- Tropical waters, waterways, confluences and wellsprings of performance
- Belief, religion, sacred objects and places, cosmologies and ritual in the tropics
- Trade, commerce, circulation, mobility and performance
- Performance and healing/transformation/change in tropical contexts
- Millenarian performances and revolution
- Indigeneity and inter/multicultural performance
- Performance and the colonized tropics
- Performances of ‘tropicality’ and counterdiscourses
- Performance and tropical networks (physical, biological, geographical, political, social, digital)
- Desire and ‘the erotic tropics’ and contestations of this
- Spectacles, festivals, and tourism
- Fabrics, textures, and designs for performance
- Tropical agriculture and the performativity of food and cuisine
- Gender as tropical performativity
- Tropical performance and the Anthropocene
- Storytelling and myth in tropical performance
Submit 150-word abstracts by email to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 15 April 2019. Notifications out by 30 April 2019.