CFP: Professional Wrestling: Politics and Populism

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Professional Wrestling: Politics and Populism
Call for book chapter proposals

Deadline for abstracts (250 words): 15 March 2018
Contact: Sharon Mazer (

Provoked by the disruptive performances of Donald Trump as candidate and president, and mindful of his longstanding ties to the WWE, this edited book will look at the infusion of professional wrestling’s worldview into the twinned discourses of politics and populism. In so doing, contributors will consider the ways that professional wrestling as an embodied, cultural practice might be seen to perform, represent, model, interrogate, and even resist diverse manifestations of populism across the political and national(ist) spectrum in the USA, Mexico and Latin America, Britain and Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

This book project began as a cross-disciplinary conversation – theatre, performance studies, anthropology – presented first in a panel (‘Rasslin’ in the Trumpocene: Politics and Pro-Wrestling in the 2016 Campaign and Beyond’) at the American Anthropological Association’s 2017 conference. The editors wish now to expand the field to allow a wider range of perspectives and voices to weigh in on the question of how professional wrestling might be implicated in the current resurgence of populist politics, whether Trump-inflected, right wing and reactionary, or indeed leftist and socialist. Publication in the ‘Enactments’ series, edited by Richard Schechner (Seagull Books), is scheduled for 2019.

Proposals are invited for chapters (approximately 6000 words). Topics potentially include:

  • The introjection of professional wrestling’s power dynamics and its constructions both of the ‘Other’ and of anti-establishment stances into the political arena;
  • The ways the Trump administration has leveraged various forms of social consent, negotiated power, and recast or silenced oppositionalities to create a new normal in politics, in the USA and beyond;
  • The staging of masculinity and violence, power and ‘truth’ in populist politics as in professional wrestling;
  • Feminist readings of the relationship between professional wrestling, populism and politics, including professional wrestling’s simultaneous complicity and questioning of masculinist power;
  • The connection between the popular and the populist, between the mediated and the live, and between the quotidian and the exceptional in professional wrestling as in contemporary politics;
  • The (dangerous) practices of representing race, immigrants and other Others in professional wrestling as in populism and politics now and in the past;
  • The ways key concepts, such as kayfabe and heat, can be seen as invocations of the various commercial and fictional worlds and universes that inform and create our politics today;
  • The reflection of the ‘rigged game’ in the fixed fight of professional wrestling.

March 15, 2018 – abstracts (250 words) due
August 15, 2018 – draft chapters due
December 1, 2018 – final chapters due
January 31, 2019 – book to press


Heather Levi is an assistant professor of anthropology at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. She is the author of The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations and Mexican National Identity.

Nell Haynes is a visiting assistant professor in anthropology at Northwestern University. She is currently completing her monograph, Chola in a Choke Hold: Remaking Indigeneity through Bolivian Lucha Libre.

Eero Laine is an assistant professor of theatre at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is one of the co-editors of Performance and Professional Wrestling and is in the process of completing his monograph, Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage.

Sharon Mazer (Auckland University of Technology) is author of Professional Wrestling: Sport and Spectacle. Her article ‘Donald Trump Shoots the Match’ was recently published by TDR.

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