Call for Papers

Performance in/and the Public Sphere: An International Conference


The conference aims at reframing the discussion on the public sphere and questioning the performative articulations of political critique. It is a continuation of our discussions in the “Performance and Transformations” conference (2012). The normative Habermasian model of the ‘public sphere’ generates a discursive arena of free flow of information and formation of public opinion that culminates in a pragmatic consensus. However, the public sphere is also an arena wherein pluralities of competing publics contest each other. It is a ‘battleground’, as Chantal Mouffe once put it. Some activist performers bring into play the public sphere to call attention to their political standpoints; they deploy the politics of visibility to make statements in public without discussion. In this context, ‘activist performance’ is a “form of political action which is located outside the political consensual realm of party politics as it is not institutionally affiliated with parties, unions, or other organizations…” (Pia Wiegmink, 2011: 31) Performance and theatre function as constant players in a turbulent public sphere. The Seattle ‘giant puppets’ march against the World Trade Organization in 1999, the ongoing ‘Occupy Movements’ and so-called ‘Arab Spring’protests, Community theatre forums, and even the phenomenon of self-immolation in public … share the politics of impersonation as imitative political behaviors.

The Arab world “has long been characterized by its Orientalizers, past and present, as not only lacking in civility but also in public-ness and public-ity.”(Seteney Shami, 2009: 14) Is there an ‘Arab Public Sphere’? Does it conform to the Habermasian model? Or, is it a post-Bourgeois model? Is it different from the public sphere of the North? Or else, an exemplary instance of what Gayatri Spivak calls the ‘Feudal North-in-the-South’? The aftermath of the Arab Spring, with the rise of the Islamist tide in the region, exposes conflicting “communities of interpretation”. The public articulation of religion and particularly its relationship with the arts has recently been subject to more thorough reflection in public debate. Many Arabs today consider modernity a fortress to be defended against religious extremism. Such reaction brings into play the risk of another kind of fundamentalism, that of modernity itself –or at least, the Arab version of modernity. “However, must we not look at a similar impasse from the other side, too?” asks Habermas, “[i]s a learning process only necessary on the side of religious traditionalism and not on that of secularism, too?” We invite scholars from around the world to join the debate and offer elements of reflection on the various problematics related to the following proposed panels:

·         Theatre/Performance Studies and Public Sphere theories

·         The role of Theater and Performance in the Public Sphere

·         The Performance of Protest in/and the “Transnational Public Sphere”

·         Shifting Terms of Public Debates in Post-Arab-Spring: Morality,

Community, and Theatre

·         Spirituality, Performance and/in the Public Sphere

Simultaneous Interpreting in all Panel Sessions

‘Performance in/and the public Sphere’ features: Keynote presentations by eminent practitioners

and scholars// Round tables with guest speakers from the field of performance and academy//

Performances// Installations// Workshops (to be announced later)…


The conference theme was chosen with the expectation that it would be sharp enough to elicit diverse intellectual contributions from distinguished experts and colleagues from many parts of the world and in many areas of research. Besides academic panel sessions, the conference program will be nourished by a rich artistic public agenda with workshops, exhibitions, book launch, and diverse performances and artistic interventions, plus receptions and gala dinners to be announced after opening.

Proposals: The organising committee welcomes abstracts strictly on the above issues. A 250-WORD abstract, along with a ONE PARAGRAPH curriculum vitae, should be submitted electronically (preferably in Word or Rich Text format) by 31 January 2013 to the scientific committee care of Professor Khalid Amine (Conference Convener). Acceptance, however, unfortunately does not include any financial support – participants are responsible for their own funding (i.e. securing grants, etc.) to pay for travel and lodging expenses. Selected conference papers will be published in a special volume upon the approval of the scientific committee. Submitters of accepted proposals will

be notified within two weeks of the above deadline and all decisions of the scientific committee are



·         Abstract Submission Deadline: 31 January 2013.

·         Notification of Acceptance/Rejection: 15 February, 2013

·         Final Paper Submission Deadline: 15 April, 2013 (included)

Emerging Scholars’ Panel: The conference is also a home for graduate students and emerging

scholars from different parts of the world. The establishment of an emerging Scholars’ panel invites

new voices to join the debate (provided that their contributions must be relevant to the theme of this

year). Up to FIVE participants will be selected for this panel, and each panelist will have ten to fifteen

minutes to deliver her/his paper. Graduate students whose papers are accepted will receive free

conference registration, free admission to conference luncheon, and a one-year membership in ICPS.

Who is eligible? Scholars who meet the definition of ‘emerging scholars’ are postgraduate students

writing up their PhD dissertation or post-doctoral researchers whose PhDs have been completed less

than three years.

Registration Fee: 100 Euros payable upon arrival or via Bank transfer (see ICPS bank Details).

Registration includes 2 Gala Receptions, conference pack, tickets for any public concerts or site specific

performances within the conference’s public agenda, free guided tour of the Kasbah Museum, and one of the books of published proceedings from previous conferences. Since the conference is again pulling a very international public, registered attendees, participants from past conferences, and

friends of ICPS will be most welcome to attend too. Women and underrepresented minorities are

especially encouraged to apply. ICPS is an Affirmative Acting/Equal Opportunity Organization.


Conference Location: Faculty of Letters at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University, Tétouan & the Kasbah Museum, Sahat El Kasbah, Rif Spa Hotel, Tangier.

Conference Board (2013)

·         Erika Fischer-Lichte (Head of DFG Collaborative Research Centre "Performing Cultures" and Director of BMBF International Research Centre "Interweaving Cultures in Performance", Berlin, Germany

·         Christopher Balme (President of the International Federation for Theatre research IFTR/FIRT)

·         Christel Weiler, Professor at Institute for theatre science of the Freie Universität, Berlin

·         Carol Malt, Museum Curator, Adjunct Professor at the University of West Florida, and Ex-Director of the Art & Culture Center of Hollywood, USA

·         Richard Gough, Senior Research Fellow and Artistic Director of the Centre for Performance Research, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Wales

·         George F. Roberson, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Geography Human Dimensions Research Cluster, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA

·         Marjorie Kanter, Author of short literary and poem-like pieces, USA

·         Mohammed Samir Al-Khatib, Art Critic, the Academy of Arts, Cairo);

·         Azzeddine Bounit, Professor of Theatre & Regional Director of Culture in Agadir,

·         Morocco

·         Hassan Youssfi, Theatre Professor, University Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco



Khalid Amine, Conference Convener, Residence Al Andalous N° 11, Rue Birr Anzaran, Tanger 90 000, Maroc

Adresse: E-mail:, Tél/Fax: (212) 5393330466, Portable: 0664596791/ Web: