Spiritual and Religious Performances of Activism and Protest

deadline for submissions: 
November 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Performance, Religion, and Spirituality (PRS), Volume 1 Issue 1
contact email: 

Call for Papers

Performance, Religion, and Spirituality (PRS), Volume 1 Issue 1 Deadline for abstracts: November 30th, 2016

Special Inaugural Issue:
Spiritual and Religious Performances of Activism and Protest

With calls for prayer as peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, from Black Lives Matter to burkinis, and from immigration policy to Papal popularity, religion and spirituality is an undeniably visible and visceral component of recent activist and protest culture—on the web as much as on the ground, amidst casual conversation as much as political debate. The greatest political, economic, environmental, and cultural crises facing the world community today cannot be adequately understood without an appreciation of the performative dimensions of religion, spirituality, and ritual. As David Kertzer notes, “History is dotted with acts of revolt spawned by the special atmosphere that communal rites provide” (Ritual, Politics, and Power, 150). This special inaugural issue of Performance, Religion, and Spirituality invites essays that explicitly grapple with the fact that religious attitudes, cultural theologies, spiritual economies, and ritual structures inflect and infuse the flow of wealth, the migration of workers, the fleeing of refugees, the elections of presidents, the distribution of power, the assertion of identity, and the negotiation of borders. As Judith Butler argues, the “public sphere” itself can be understood as an effect of certain religious traditions (“Introduction”, The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, 8). The specific question this issue asks is, “How are religion and spirituality caught up performatively within the creation of or reaction to political change, especially on the parts of individuals or groups who might engage religion and spirituality both in service for or against social protests or activist movements?” Although religion/spirituality might be broadly perceived to work toward greater social good, it also contributes to conflict. How do both established and independent religious or spiritual movements, groups, and individuals perform the perception of injustice and the need for alleviation or reform?

PRS especially welcomes interdisciplinary papers that address issues bridging religion, spirituality, performance, protest, and activism from a range of methodological perspectives, including but not limited to: religious studies, theatre and performance studies, cultural studies, media studies, sociology, political science, international relations, theology, applied performance or practice as research, and pedagogy.

Topics for consideration might include but are not limited to:
Uses of religious imagery in protest and/or activism
Uses of religious imagery that provoke protest and/or activism

Hagiography or “sainthood” of fallen victims or leaders


Ritual dimensions or components of protest performance

Specific acts of protest directed toward religious groups or spiritual leaders

Contemporary history of religions through aid, mission and charity work, etc.

Adoption/adaptation of religion as ethical code leading to protest/activism

Protest or activism as a kind of (or an approach to) spirituality or community

Performance of theologies as protest: ecotheology, feminist and womanist theology, black theology, queer theology, etc.

About PRS:

Performance, Religion, and Spirituality is an international and interdisciplinary journal that provides a platform for discussion of the performative aspects of religious and spiritual cultural phenomena (which can include atheism and questions of secularism), as well as the religious and/or spiritual dimensions of performance (theatrical, dramatic, and otherwise). We approach the terms theatre, performance, religion, and spirituality broadly, pushing our understanding to encompass historical, local, and especially global contexts. Along with the broad scope of our inquiry, the journal advocates a rigorous theoretical approach, and seeks challenging scholarship that charts new territory in the relationship between performance theory and critical theory, theology and philosophy, anthropology, political science, and theatre studies. PRS especially aims to give visibility to scholars, both new and established, who have struggled to legitimate their work within a modern academy that has consistently relegated the study of spirituality, ritual, and religion to the academic sidelines. PRS is affiliated with the Performance, Religion and Spirituality Working Group of the International Federation of Theatre Researchers (IFTR) and the Religion and Theatre Focus Group with the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

Submission of Abstracts:
Please submit a recent CV and your abstract of no more than 500 words by November 30 to

Invitations for papers will be extended by December 31st 2016 Final papers will be expected by March 31, 2017