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1968 | 2018: Protest, Performance and the Public Sphere

1968 | 2018 Protest, performance and the public sphere

An interdisciplinary symposium

7-9 June 2018

University of Warwick

In partnership with:

The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, the Graduate Center, CUNY

Cultures of the Left: Manifestations and Performances

Warwick Performance and Politics Network

Warwick Arts Centre

Keynote Speakers:

Lucia Bensasson, Artistic Director, ARTA (Association de Recherche des Traditions de l'Acteur), Paris

Peter Eckersall, Professor and Executive Officer (Theatre), Graduate Center, City University of New York

Call for Papers

(Please note that the deadline for proposals has now passed)

In 1968 a wave of popular protest swept across Europe, India and North and South America. It was accompanied by demonstrations, interventions and performances, and marked the irruption of political protest in the public sphere in a way that changed culture, thinking and policy.

Recent events have seen a resurgence of the popular voice (as evidenced variously, for instance, in the outcomes of the Brexit referendum, the US and French presidential elections, events in Catalonia, and the Hindutva political narrative in India). They have been accompanied by a sense of crisis concerning civic and political process, and the galvanising of radical public protest of different kinds.

On the fiftieth anniversary of les événements and the various socio-political actions of 1968, this symposium asks what we can learn from these events. It considers what resonance 1968 has for contemporary political movements, how ‘the public’ engages with political process in current scenarios, and the extent to which popular protest, performative intervention and the public sphere are intertwined today. It also examines how civic and political change come about. What difference does protest make, and how does it get performed in specific political contexts?

The symposium programme will include a visit to Trying It On at Warwick Arts Centre, the world premiere of a solo show written and performed by David Edgar. In the piece Edgar reflects on the 50th anniversary of 1968 from the perspective of his own 70th birthday in 2018.

Proposals for contributions that bear directly on one or more of the themes above are welcome. These might address:

  • Specific instances of political and performative demonstration in 1968 and/or in contemporary contexts.
  • Considerations of the ‘popular’, then and now.
  • Trajectories of ‘left’ and ‘right’ manifestation.
  • The changing nature of the public sphere, in an age of social media and a ‘post-truth’ environment.
  • Notions of radicalism, resistance, revolution and civic/social transformation.
  • Notions of citizenship and the responsibilities of citizens.
  • Expressions of nationalism, anti-nationalism, and ideas of the national interest.
  • Scenes and instances of intervention.
  • Considerations of political frameworks (social democracy, authoritarianism, neoliberalism).
  • Trajectories of performance in relation to cultural and political transaction.
  • Contemporary protest as drawing upon memories of past protests.
  • Implications of re-accessing protest memory through conserving and exhibiting of protest artefacts and media re-circulation.
  • The role of creativity, storytelling and imagination in materialising and sustaining protest memory.

We welcome proposals for posters; 5-minute provocations; papers and presentations of 15 minutes; or panel discussions of 30 minutes (in this case, we envisage each panel comprising three or four speakers who will be named in the proposal). Our aim is to facilitate discussion across areas and disciplines, leading off from the presentation formats indicated.

The symposium is supported by Connecting Cultures (Global Research Priority) and the Humanities Research Centre, both University of Warwick; Cultures of the Left is funded by the British Academy.

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