Current open calls for submissions

Volume 28, Issue 6 - On Activation

Deadline: 9 January 2023


Editors: Christel Stalpaert with Verónica Tello and Eylül Fidan Akıncı


The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle. The fact that man is capable of action means that the unexpected can be expected from him, that he is able to perform what is infinitely improbable… Action as beginning corresponds to the fact of birth. (Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition 178).


Hannah Arendt’s words, written over 60 years ago, continue to resonate. As cities, regions, countries or parts of countries are slowly, and at times intermittently, opening up to the outside again after periods of quarantine and strict social distancing measures, we reflect on her observations of action as beginning. Politicians, the global mass media and social media disseminate messages on potential exit strategies from COVID-19 and articulate what they deem to be the common sense necessary to guide us forward to ‘the new normal’. But is exit the direction in which we should be headed, and headed as quickly as possible? And where would ‘new beginnings’ take us? Does the ‘new’ obliterate the layers of already precarious histories and subjects (human and non-human)?


In her critical assessment of The Human Condition, Ariella Azoulay proposed a shift from the temporal axis of the ‘new’ and its historical markers such as ‘beginning’ and ‘end’. Revealing the ‘new’ as an imperialistic trope, Azoulay is concerned with rehabilitating and (re-)activating histories, skills, practices, epistemologies and futures. Activation is not only conducted by declared activists operating within protest movements or nongovernmental organizations. It also entails sustained efforts across time that insist on unlearning imperialism, colonialism and racial capitalism. By extending Azoulay’s question to our field, we ask: how would these agendas of activating the new and reactivating the past for equity manifest in performance, art history and aesthetics?


In this thematic issue, we interrogate how art and performance can activate or reactivate concepts and practices of ‘beginning’ or ‘beginnings’ without defaulting to the erasure of history. Activating efforts, actions and epistemologies have long histories and have long attempted to exit imperialist, colonialist and capitalist hegemony. What does it mean to activate such beginnings or already existing decolonial or queer potentialities? What forms of relations between actors (human and non-human) may emerge through such a task? How can artists collaborate with institutions to circumvent the limitations of authoritative bureaucracy?


We seek scholarly articles, essays, manifestos and creative works that respond to the issue’s themes and provocations.


The responses can address, but are not limited to:


-          Activating decolonial lifeworlds (Tuhiwai Smith 2012) via performance, bodies and somatic arts;

-          Performative engagements with queer beginnings and archives (Love 2009);

-          Activating alternative modes of knowledge production in unlearning and undoing epistemic violence (Lugones 2008, Gomez-Barris 2017);

-          Performative engagements with technology to envisage alter- or para-futures/histories (Sorensen 1987, Haraway 2016);

-          ‘Re’-doing as activation: performative practices of micropolitical re-engagement with life (Braidotti 2019), resurgence (Tsing 2015) and re-enactment (Baker-Smith 2020);

-          ‘Un’-doing as a tactic of generating beginnings, such as unlearning, ungoverning (Azoulay 2019) or unbecoming (Michaels 1988);

-          Practices of allies, bonding and connectivityat the nexus of art and activism (Mouffe 2016), pedagogic activism (Varela 2016), molecular or slow activism (Raunig 2013, Bryan Wilson 2017) or art-science-activist worldings (Haraway 2016);

-          Activating institutional critique or instituent practice to exit Western hetero-patriarchal coloniality (MTL Collective 2018 and Tello 2020).



Please send 300- to 400-word abstracts (with a 100-word author bio).

Alongside long-form articles, we encourage short articles and provocations. As with other editions of Performance Research, we welcome artist(s)’s pages and other contributions that use distinctive layouts and typographies, combining words and images, as well as more conventional essays.



Arendt, Hannah (2019) The Human Condition, Chicago Il.: Chicago University Press.

Azoulay, Ariella (2019) Potential History. Unlearning imperialism, London: Verso.

Baker Smith, Diana (2020) The Lost Hour, video essay, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia.

Braidotti, Rosi (2013) The Posthuman,Cambridge: Polity Press.

Braidott, Rosi (2019) Posthuman Knowledge, London:Polity Press.

Bryan Wilson, Julia (2017) Fray: Art & textile politic, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Eckersall, Peter and Grehan, Helen (2019) ‘A Dramaturgy of Cultural Activism’, in Peter Eckersall and Helena Grehan (eds) The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics, London: Routledge, pp. 1-6.

Gomez-Barris, Macarena (2017)The Extractive Zone:Social ecologies and decolonial perspectives,Durham: Duke University Press.

Haraway, Donna J. (2016) Staying With The Trouble. Making kin in the Chthulucene, Durham: Duke University Press.

Love, Heather (2009) Feeling Backward: Loss and the politics of queer history, Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Lugones, María (2008) ‘Colonialidad y genero’, Tabula Rasa, 9: 73–101,

Michael, Eric (1988) Unbecoming, Durham:Duke University Press.

Mouffe, Chantal (2016) ‘“Art can’t change the world on its own”. Chantal Mouffe in conversation with Pelin Tan and Florian Malzacher’, in Florian Malzacher, Ahmet Ögüt and Pelin Tan (eds) The Silent University. Towards a transversal pedagogy, Berlin: Sternberg Press, pp. 34–43.

MTL Collective, (2018) ‘From institutional critique to institutional liberation? A decolonial perspective on the crises of contemporary art’,October 165: 192–227.

Raunig, Gerald (2013) Factories of Knowledge, Industries of Creativity, Cambridge Mass.: The MIT Press (semiotext(e) intervention series 15)

Sorensen, Roy (1987) ‘Time Travel, Parahistory and Hume’, Philosophy 62(240): 227–236.

Tello, Verónica (2020) ‘What is contemporary about institutional critique? Instituting the contemporary: A study of The Silent University', Third Text 34(6): 635–49.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt (2015) The Mushroom at the End of the World. On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Tuhiwai Smith, Linda (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples, London: Zed Books.

Varela, María Castro do Mar (2016) ‘Pedagogic activism vs. pedagogic paternalism’, in Florian Malzacher, Ahmet Ögüt and Pelin Tan (eds) The Silent University. Towards a transversal pedagogy, Berlin: Sternberg Press, pp. 44–55.

Varela, María Castro do Mar and Ülker, Baris (eds) (2020) Doing Tolerance. Urban interventions and forms of participation, Leverkusen: Barbara Budrich Verlag.


Issue Contacts:

All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to Performance Research at:


Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors via:



Proposals: January 2023

First drafts: April 2023

Final drafts: June 2023

Publication: Sept 2023


General Guidelines for Submissions: 

• Before submitting a proposal, we encourage you to visit our website ( ) and familiarize yourself with the journal. 

• Proposals will be accepted by email (Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF)).

 Proposals should not exceed one A4 side. 

• Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send. 

• Please include the issue title and issue number in the subject line of your email. 

• Submission of images and other visual material is welcome provided that all attachments do not exceed 5 MB, and there is a maximum of five images. 

• Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere. 

• If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in the first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article, you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.