Performance and Protest symposium

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On 10th January 1969, the pirate station Radio Free Derry broadcast its inaugural programme to a nascent Free Derry, a self–declared autonomous region established near the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border.

These twin declarations of autonomy––in both the physical and broadcast space––in part embodied the transnational influence of the global counterculture upon the local left, including that of Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement and other global student protest movements of the era.

The combination of performance and protest has many precedents in the sphere of Irish (and Northern Irish) culture. From marching band traditions to protest marches and sit–ins and from political chants and song traditions to storytelling, the deployment of performative aspects of historical and political narratives are rarely far from the surface.

The fiftieth anniversary of the inception of Free Derry (and Radio Free Derry) provides an opportunity to reflect on the connections between performance and protest in a range of global contexts and across a range of cultural forms in public spaces and on social networks and media: the Occupy movement, Arab Spring, Gezi Park, Euromaidan, the Repeal the Eighth campaign in Ireland, #MeToo and related movements, and, more recently, the Extinction Rebellion. Can we benefit from re–examining varied political acts from the last half–century (or beyond) to the present day via their framing as artistic endeavours? From marching to sit-downs, music to silence, how useful is it for us to consider performance as embedded within political––and cultural––action?

Possible themes and perspectives include:

Historical and contemporary studies of political/performative demonstration
Performing memory and the use of ideas of the past in contemporary protest
Performing identities: national/political/gender/sexuality etc.
Relationships between, and uses of, various artforms (visual art/music/drama, etc.) and media in protest
Parallels between historical and contemporary protest movements
Organising committee: Stephen McCann (Dublin Institute of Technology), Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick, Dr Murat Akser, Dr Victoria McCollum and Dr Brian Bridges (Ulster University)

Hosted by the Music, Drama, Film and Museum Studies research unit, School of Arts and Humanities, Ulster University, Magee campus; organised in association with the Museum of Free Derry’s anniversary programme.

Academic papers: we invite proposals for standard–length (20 min) papers and short (10 min) presentations. Submission by 150–word abstract to (subject heading Performance and Protest) by 2pm on Mon 10th December.

Artworks: we also welcome proposals for video or audio–based responses (which may be presented over headphones), though we regret we are unable to pay artists’ fees. Please email with a 100-word description, 100–word artist’s bio, and links to sample materials, by 2pm on Monday 10th December.
Period10 Jan 2019
Event typeConference
LocationDerry, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational