German Anthology: Drag, here and today! Theoretical and Aesthetic Reflections on a Queer Practice of the Present

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Jenny Schrödl and Samu/elle Striewski (Freie Universität Berlin)

In Germany, drag is a hot topic ... again. Through the spread and visualization of diverse, subcultural manifestations that long ago left rigid binaries such as king and queen behind, e.g. during the international festival go drag! in Berlin in October 2022, and through its entry into pop culture, not least thanks to the first broadcast of Drag Race Germany in fall 2023, drag is experiencing an upswing in Germany. However, the increased media presence is not only received positively, it also serves as an opportunity for right-wing propaganda, such as in the summer of 2023 when CSU and AfD politicians campaigned against a drag story hour in Munich's city library; this is reminiscent of how, for instance, the so-called drag bans in the USA were only a first step towards trans-hostile laws and more extensive restrictions on gender diversity. And yet, despite the current developments regarding drag, both affirmative and repressive, the German academic debate is not up to date. Even though drag – and associated terms such as travesty, cross-dressing, masquerade, etc. – were extensively studied in the 1990s and 2000s, there is a lack of analysis stemming from cultural, art, media and theater studies, especially in view of the more recent development of drag's styles and forms in social and media contexts (beyond the classic stage performances of drag kings and queens). For it has been shown time and again that drag can be many things (at the same time): Social criticism, art performance, vital sociality, utopian desire, risky physical experimentation or joyful entertainment.

The planned anthology takes the proliferating and normalizing tendencies of the public debate on the one hand and the increasing political polarization and repressive diabolization of drag (also in connection with trans rights and the much-discussed self-determination law) on the other as a starting point to provide an initial overview of the interplay of aesthetic diversity, historical complexity and political significance of drag and travesty in the present. To counteract the US monopoly of queer theory formation (also in relation to drag), we focus primarily on developments in Germany as well as those international figures, forms and constellations that are relevant for understanding the situation here.

Based on the current social situation outlined above, we want to explore the following questions: What dis/continuities are there between historical forms of travesty (for example the 'Polittunten') and contemporary drag practices? What aesthetic means and manifestations characterize today's drag performances, also in comparison to historical predecessors? Where are differences, similarities and continuities to be found? What political significance does drag have today and how can it be explained that it is experiencing both normalization (entry into the mass media with TV formats such as Drag Race Germany) and repression (scandalization of drag story hours for children)? What are the sociological, philosophical, theater or dance dimensions of drag practices and how do they relate to the political, social and economic developments of queer and trans people in Germany? To what extent does the practice of drag and travesty not only reveal power structures in relation to gender and sexuality, but also in relation to other violent forms of discrimination such as classism, racism or ableism? Does drag (still?) have a subversive, emancipatory potential and, if so, why, for whom and under what circumstances? Can drag be thought of not only as an artistic practice but also as a form of life and how does it (then) relate to identities such as trans, butch/femme, non-binary and the concept of community? What possibly particular forms of collectivity, solidarity and affectivity go hand in hand with drag?

We ask for abstracts that, in exchange with drag practices and practitioners, e.g:

  • empirically, for example through historical, ethnographic or sociological approaches, address the emergence and structure of contemporary forms of drag;

  • analytically/interpretatively, for example from a theater/dance/literature/film/media or cultural studies perspective, deal with contemporary drag artists and aesthetic questions;

  • theoretically, for example with phenomenological, (body) philosophical, queer, decolonial, anti-racist, feminist or other socio-critical approaches, engage with thepolitical significance of drag.

We have conceived a unique, dialogical and experimental form for the anthology: the academic contributions should not - as is usually the case - be written in isolation from one another, but rather in dialogue with drag performers, travesty artists or ‘Tunten’ from the very beginning. This is intended to counteract the uncritical appropriation of marginalized perspectives by scholarly theory. Academics and drag practitioners are encouraged to come together (if needed through our mediation) for a contribution and to develop a joint article. What exactly this exchange looks like is up to the authors themselves. It is possible, for example, that the academic contribution takes a performance or biographical narratives as the starting point for its own theorization, or that an artistic contribution (e.g. an essay by a performer) is responded to in writing, or that a single, joint text is created in a collaborative writing process or interview. Insofar as academic and artistic authors do not already apply as a duo or group, we as editors will propose academic-artistic constellations according to the best possible thematic fit.

The final result will be an anthology with eight to ten 'text pairs' (40,000-50,000 characters, including spaces), each written by one (or more) academic and one (or more) artistic author(s). In addition to this format, we also welcome other ideas, such as suggestions for image and photo contributions. We have already accepted interviews with the US-American trans and queer theorist Jack Halberstam and the presenters of Drag Race Germany, Barbie Breakout and Gianni Jovanovic. Submissions in German are welcome, as are contributions in English that clearly relate to the topic of the call. Even if the final text is intended to be a collaborative academic/artistic work, we ask for abstracts that make it clear in which direction the academic part of the contribution should go so that we can ensure a balanced overall picture of the anthology when making our selection.

Abstracts of 250-300 words can be submitted to the editors of the anthology, Jenny Schrödl ( and Samu/elle Striewski (, by January 31, 2024.


Indicative timeline:

January 31, 2024 –  Deadline for submission of abstracts 

February 2024 –  Feedback on the abstract

July 31, 2024 –  Submission of the manuscripts

September 2024 –  Feedback on the manuscripts

End of 2024 –  Submission of the final text version

June 28, 2025 –  Publication and book launch party in Berlin