: Call for Papers, Performance Paradigm 15 (2019)

Performing Southern Feminisms

Co-editors: Caroline Wake (University of New South Wales) and Emma Willis (University of Auckland), and section editors (TBC)

From Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the United Nations to comedian Hannah Gadsby on Netflix—the women of Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia have rarely been more visible on the international stage. Like their sisters around the world, the women of the Asia-Pacific raised their hands and voices in 2017 to say #metoo. However, regional differences mean that the movement has unfolded differently here. In Australia, strict defamation laws have stymied the naming of perpetrators and instead facilitated the effective “weaponisation” of the #metoo movement (Maley 2018). In China, women were using the hashtags #我也是 (#IAmAlso) and #MeToo在中国 (#MeTooInChina) until the tags were banned, at which pointed they switched to the user-generated nickname for the movement, 米兔, which translates as “rice bunny” but is pronounced as “mi tu” (Zeng 2018). In other instances, the movement served to reanimate previous efforts, for example the Australia Council of the Arts’ report Women in Theatre (Lally and Miller 2012) and in the Republic of Korea, Seo Ji-hyun’s complaint against her senior colleague in 2010 (Haynes and Chen 2018). Now, twelve years after Tarana Burke first tweeted #metoo, and one year after it went viral, women are also asking themselves—what next?

The aim of this issue of Performance Paradigm—an open-access, peer-reviewed journal now in its 15th year—is twofold. Firstly, to document and analyse the theatre, performance, dance and live art being made by and with cis- and trans-women across the Asia-Pacific. Secondly, and more ambitiously, to develop a theory and vocabulary of “Southern feminisms” for theatre and performance studies. In their recent issue on “Feminisms Now,” Sarah Gorman, Geraldine Harris and Jen Harvie remark on “the inadequacy of the term ‘feminist’ for non-white artists and scholars” (2018, 280). This “inadequacy” has particular regional resonances. For example, on the experiences of Pacific women, artists Lana Lopesi and Louisa Afoa write that, “The liberal feminist idea of a universal women’s experience can be unrelatable for women from cultures who have been victim to colonisation” (2015). Similarly, in her analysis of Hot Brown Honey, Sarah French draws on the work of Aileen Moreton-Robinson, a Goenpul woman of the Quandamooka nation, to argue that “Australian feminism has consistently excluded Indigenous women and … there are necessarily limitations to Indigenous women’s involvement with white feminists” (Moreton-Robinson 2000, cited by French 2018, 322).

These remarks reiterate the argument Celia Roberts and Raewyn Connell make in the introduction to their special issue on “Southern Feminism” (2016). Drawing on Beninese philosopher Paulin Hountondji (1997), they point out that: “Theory is normally produced in the metropole and exported to the periphery, while the periphery normally produces data and exports this raw material to the metropole. All academic disciplines show these patterns; viewed as a whole, feminist, women’s and gender studies are no exception” (Roberts and Connell 2016, 135–36). Neither are theatre and performance studies, both historically dominated by North American and European scholars. Rather than solely seeking to add some Asia-Pacific data to feminist theatre and performance studies, this issue sets out to develop a theory. It asks: what might Southern feminist performance—and performance theory—look like if we were start with our own “peripheral” selves?

We therefore invite contributions that problematise, extend and challenge what Southern feminism means in a wide variety of performance contexts including theatre, dance, performance and live art, ritual, activism, burlesque and voguing. Here we are thinking of everything from Arden’s diplomacy and Gadsby’s comedy to anything in between. We are interested in ensembles, solo artists, choreographers, company leaders, and community workers. Moreover, we invite appraisals of both feminist-identified performances and works that may not identify as “feminist” but that engage with the relationship between gender and power by way of their own cultural and aesthetic frameworks. While we do not wish to “colonise” artists who do not identify as feminist by naming them so, we do wish to broaden the parameters of the discussion in order to enrich the critical discourse. 

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Pacific feminisms, mana wahine
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander feminisms, Indigenous/indigenous feminisms
  • Feminism, allyship, and “decolonising solidarity” (Land 2015)
  • Queer, trans and non-binary feminisms
  • Cultural paradigms that provide their own matrices for articulating the relationship between gender, power and cultural expression in performance
  • Feminism and religious identities
  • Feminism, migration and performance
  • Feminist epistemologies and dramaturgies
  • Feminist ensembles and “girl gangs” (Mayhew 2017)
  • Feminist performance on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and beyond
  • Pink/pynk aesthetics
  • Intergenerational feminist performance
  • Ecofeminism and performance
  • Xenofeminism (Laboria Cuboniks 2015) and performance
  • Postfeminism
  • Issues of industry, participation and representation

Please send proposals of approximately 300 words to Caroline Wake (c.wake@unsw.edu.au) and Emma Willis (emma.willis@auckland.ac.nz) by Monday 18 February 2019. Full articles will be due on 31 May 2019 for publication in December 2019.



Works Cited

French, Sarah. 2018. “‘Talkin’ Up to the White Woman’: Intersections of Race and Gender in Hot Brown Honey.” Contemporary Theatre Review 28 (3): 320–331. https://doi.org/10.1080/10486801.2018.1475357

Gorman, Sarah, Geraldine Harris, and Jen Harvie. 2018. “Introduction: Feminisms Now.” Contemporary Theatre Review 28 (3): 278–284.


Haynes, Suyin, and Aria Hangyu Chen. 2018. “How #MeToo Is Taking on a Life of Its Own in Asia.” Time. 9 October 2018. http://time.com/longform/me-too-asia-china-south-korea/

Hountondji, Paulin J. 1997. “Introduction: Recentring Africa.” In Endogenous Knowledge: Research Trails, edited by Paulin J. Hountondji, 1–39. Dakar: CODESRIA.

Laboria Cuboniks. 2015. Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienationhttp://www.laboriacuboniks.net/

Lally, Elaine, and Sarah Miller. 2012. Women in Theatre: A Research Report and Action Plan for the Australia Council for the Arts. Sydney: Australia Council for the Arts. https://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/workspace/uploads/files/research/women-in-theatre-april-2012-54325827577ea.pdf

Land, Clare. 2015. Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles. London: Zed Books.

Lopesi, Lana, and Louisa Afoa. 2015. “Body Language.” The Occassional Journal 2015 (“Love Feminisms”). http://enjoy.org.nz/publishing/the-occasional-journal/love-feminisms/body-language#article

Maley, Jacqueline. 2018. “When #metoo meets defamation law and a brutal political culture.” Sydney Morning Herald. 9 November 2018. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/when-metoo-meets-defamation-law-and-a-brutal-political-culture-20181109-p50f3j.html

Mayhew, Louisa. 2017. “On Top of the Art World: Clark Beaumont and the Rise of Artist Girl Gangs.” Re-bus 8: 1–23. https://www1.essex.ac.uk/arthistory/research/pdfs/rebus/rebus_issue_8_vol_1.pdf

Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. 2000. Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Aboriginal Women and Feminism. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press.

Roberts, Celia, and Raewyn Connell. 2016. “Feminist theory and the global South.” Feminist Theory 17(2): 135–140. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1464700116645874

Zeng, Meg Jing. 2018. “From #MeToo to #RiceBunny: How Social Media Users Are Campaigning in China.” The Conversation. 6 February 2018. https://theconversation.com/from-metoo-to-ricebunny-how-social-media-users-are-campaigning-in-china-90860