CFP: Performing Global Crises

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Call for Papers
September 16, 2022
New Zealand
Subject Fields: 
Theatre & Performance History / Studies, Contemporary History, Political History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Social Sciences

Call for Papers:


Performing Global Crises


An interdisciplinary conference hosted by The Performance of the Real Research Theme at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

30th November - 2nd December 2022


Crisis has characterised contemporary lives in many ways as we witness, experience, perform, and respond to entangled health, political, social, and environmental disasters. For example, in the past few years, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected virtually every area of our lives. Individual, local, national, and global responses have been played out and performed in the media, on social media, and in embodied social landscapes. Scientists have become the new celebrities, and politicians have risen and fallen according to their Covid management performances. The virus itself has also performed, taking on different guises as it mutates to extend its life and efficacy. Zoom and other similar platforms have become the new mode of communication for many, generating new forms of visibility, intimate digital surveillance, and networked sociality. Many people have been marginalised or further marginalised by the pandemic, by inequalities in access to digital technologies as well as health technologies. At the same time there has never been a time when communication, miscommunication, disinformation about vaccines, mandates, and more have been so fraught and politicised. As all-encompassing as the pandemic has seemed at times, it has been eclipsed in some respects, more recently, by public attention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is emerging as the most visible war in history. With visibility comes multiple modes of performance and performativity, including competing deep fakes, and another arena for the performance of global leaders, politicians, and the public. Meanwhile, the slow violence of Climate Change continues to devastate communities, nations, and species. The Climate itself, specific ecosystems and landscapes, and non-human creatures, have been acting as key performers in diverse scientific, popular, and media-scapes, garnering global attention as harbingers for a harrowing future, even amidst those who doubt its existence.


This conference will explore the way that these multi-layered global crises have been and continue to be performed, contested, and mediated across all strata of communication and society.


We encourage contributions relating (but not limited) to the following topics and issues connected to the performance and performativity of crises:

  • The Climate Emergency and public performances of responsibility
  • Protest action and the performance of dissent
  • Digital technologies of visibility and surveillance
  • News, information, and the politics of truth
  • Precarity, marginalization, and inequality in times of crises
  • Art, literature, and creativity for wellbeing and resilience amidst crises
  • Leadership, celebrity, and the public performance of power and trust amidst crises
  • Public communication of science (virology, climatology, etc.)
  • Spectacularisation of war, violence, and the military
  • Participatory/symbolic performances of political relations: allyship, solidarity, fear, or threat
  • Decolonisation and indigeneity in responses to crises
  • Empathy, care, and witnessing: mediated responses to the suffering of others
  • Gendered experiences of/in crises: labour, feminism, care ethics
  • Politicised bodies/selves: intersectional views of gender, disability, race, and the good life
  • Racialised and spatialised performances - mapping and tracing crises through bodies
  • Multispecies, posthuman, and more-than-human worlds: living with ‘others’ through crises
  • Wellbeing and affect amidst crises: hypervigilance, anxiety, apathy, compassion fatigue
  • Social imaginations of the future: hope, optimism, connection and connectivity, the utopian/dystopian, apocalyptic visions, and ‘doom’


Conference and Paper Format:

This will be a hybrid conference that allows people placed in Aotearoa New Zealand and nearby to attend in person, and for internationals - if they cannot travel - to attend online via Zoom.

In addition to conventional 20-minute papers, we also invite presentations with a performance or creative or workshop component.


Submitting an Abstract:

Please submit a 200-250 word abstract of your contribution and a 100-word biography for each presenter by 16 September 2022. Please send us your abstract as a Word document. Use your surname in the document title. Please clearly indicate the title of your presentation, the nature and timing of your presentation e.g. 20 minute spoken paper with Powerpoint, as well as your full name (first name, surname) and institutional affiliation (if relevant). Please send your abstracts or any enquiries to the Theme administrator at

Accepted delegates must confirm their attendance by completing registration and payment by October 31, 2022.


Travel bursaries for Postgraduate Students:

There are also a limited number of small travel bursaries available for attending the conference. Please contact the Theme administrator at for more details.


About the Performance of the Real Research Theme

The Performance of the Real is a University of Otago funded interdisciplinary Research Theme. The project investigates what it is about representations and performances of the real that make them particularly compelling and pervasive in our current age. At its core is the study of how performance/performativity, in its many cultural, aesthetic, political and social forms and discourses, represents, critiques, stages, and constructs/reconstructs the real, as well as the ethical, social, and form-related issues involved in such acts.



Contact Info: 

Bronwyn Wallace
Research Assistant - Performance of the Real