Call for Proposals
PSi #27 Conference: Hunger
6-9 July 2022
The global hunger situation is dire. Pre-pandemic data showed that 821 million people went to bed hungry every night and 130 million more were estimated to be on the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. In May 2021, the World Food Programme issued an alert on its website, reporting that 34 million people across the world were on the brink of famine.* The causes of this grim reality were well entrenched before the pandemic, which has only revealed more starkly the structural fault lines of our shared world. And while countries with historical strategic financial and military positions and benefits are slowly returning to ‘normality’, its subjects having (more or less) full access to vaccination and health structures, the global vaccination efforts do signal a widening gap between those who have access to food and health, and those who do not. The situation calls for action on all fronts, including in the fields of performance, cultural work, and the arts. The conference is a form of action and response.
But how do we/should we respond? In a 1999 Performance Research issue on food and performance, Enzo Cozzi remarks about the impossibility of theatrical representation of hunger— ‘from the perspective of those dying of starvation, this world is already ending everyday, apocalypse is now’.* The intervention that representation might accomplish will always be too late. Reading this more than twenty years later and in the midst of a pandemic, one might ask: How can performance studies articulate and intervene in the apocalyptic scenario of hunger, injustice, and death that is relentlessly happening before us, amongst us, all around us, while we stop to ask this question?
Corporeal hunger is exacerbated by other kinds that cannot be easily located in the body and yet experienced as material reality within the conditions of isolation and upending of everything that made up ‘normal’ life as we knew it. Where does the hunger for comfort reside? Where do we locate the hunger and thirst for activity and circulation? The hungry gut or the hungry feet? Grief for all the deaths suffuses the entire body as a desperate hungering for hope and agency. The Covid-infected gasp not only for breath but also for the warmth of loved ones who cannot be there for them. The hungry seek food and humane treatment. The thirsty seek clean water access. And the privileged un-starving who have food and water on the table and to spare feel a hunger they know not what, and languish aimlessly. The pandemic has spared no one. Hunger and thirst are physical but also mental, emotional, psychological and hunger action is soul work as much as it is a material response.
PSi #27: Hunger seeks panels, artistic, activist and scholarly actions and interventions on the theme in a fully online conference on 6-9 July 2022.
We welcome proposals for two kinds of sessions: response panels and hunger action sessions.
The response panels can be a symposium or roundtable on any of the subthemes (Food, Water, Mal/Nutrition, Scarcity, Access and Distribution, Needs and Desire, Pain) and will encourage dialogues with intellectuals and practitioners from outside performance studies. Submissions to this format will ideally be done by teams that are already working collaboratively on the topic of their response. Response panels will enable conversations on the specific ways through which performance studies’ methodologies and practices can contribute to global activism and discourse-making against hunger.
The hunger action sessions can take the form of artistic exhibitions, performances, workshops, and onsite work with advocacy groups connected to the conference via a curated live format, with possible pre-recorded components. Some of these sessions can be public events streamed on Facebook. We are encouraging proposals that act with underprivileged communities or migrant communities that have a history of hunger.
Submissions by individuals are welcome, and they will be grouped with other individual authors in pre-curated panels and symposia, with PSi providing opportunities for pre-conference exchanges.
Submit 200-word proposal abstracts by 30 November 2021 using the submission portal. Acceptance letters and invitations to pre-curated panels (where relevant) will be released on 30 January 2022.
The conference shall also have a giving component, whereby 20% of fees paid for registration shall be gathered for a Hunger Action Fund, participants can opt to donate more, and public hunger actions can have a live donate button for the attendees.
Cozzi, Enzo. ‘Hunger and the Future of Performance.’ Performance Research, vol. 4, no. 1, 1999, p. 127.
World Food Programme. ‘Hunger Hotspots: FAO-WFP Early Warnings on Acute Food Insecurity (March to July 2021 Outlook).’ 23 March 2021. https://www.wfp.org/publications/fao-wfp-early-warning-analysis-acute-food-insecurity-hotspots-05 May 2021.
PSi #27: Hunger in 2022 is being organized directly by the PSi Board of Directors through a Conference Steering Committee and an Advisory Board that includes scholars and advocates outside the Board and outside the field of performance.
For inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.