Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group: Call for contributions

TaPRA 2018: 5-7 September 2018, Aberystwyth University

Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group: Call for contributions

Dialectics of dread and refuge

In A Grammar of the Multitude, Paolo Virno asks how we might overcome the twenty-first century’s crises of politics, the systematic paralysis into which political action is continually falling. He also asks how we might find refuge in a world characterized by ubiquitous fear, by the experience of ‘not feeling at home.’ What might strategies of unconditional refuge be in the face of failing security? What are the choreopolitical paths of disobedience? Virno points towards defection as a modality of disobedience that ‘alters the rules of the game and throws the adversary off balance’: ‘Nothing is less passive than the act of fleeing, of exiting. Defection modifies the conditions within which the struggle takes place, rather than presupposing those conditions to be an unalterable horizon […]. In short, exit consists of unrestrained invention.’ (Virno 2004, 70) But what has to be constituted – or reconstituted – is the subject who is fleeing, exiting; to find strength and solidarity in this radical act. To find – perhaps to make – in this action another home. In short, to articulate ways of being away from anxiety and fear – what Kant in his thinking described as Furcht. Virno draws on Kant (see esp. Critique of Judgment) in discussing the dialectic of dread and refuge: ‘Where is it that one can find unconditional refuge? Kant answers: in the moral “I,” since it is precisely there that one finds something of the non-contingent, of the realm above the mundane.’ (Virno 2004, 31) Virno discriminates between the Kantian view of the dialectic of dread and refuge, which is based on a distinction between particular danger and absolute danger (also articulated by Heidegger through the distinction between fear  and anguish) and the collapse of this distinction in the post-Fordist world, in which ‘the dividing line between fear and anguish, between relative dread and absolute dread, is precisely what has failed.’ (Virno 2004, 32) If post-Fordist institutions rely on a culture of pervasive dread – manifest as fear and anxiety – how do we resist this nearly intangible culture today? Arguably, we are moving beyond the sort of entrenched paralysis Virno speaks of, towards a new sort of political breakthrough, a manner of imagining life not determined by institutional cultures of fear and anxiety. Yet much thinking needs still to be done around the ways in which we engage in concerted resistance: do we fight within institutional walls – and if so, how do we resist systems of perpetual visibilisation – the gaze of securitization that renders us so exposed? What does this fight look like? Do we exit – and if so, where to? Is there a new underground?

The TaPRA Theatre, Performance and Philosophy Working Group invites 20-minute papers, curated panels, workshops, performances and other forms of intervention in response to some of these questions. Topics which might be covered include, but are not limited to:

  • Dramaturgies of appearance and disappearance
  • Flight, escape, exit
  • Undergrounds and undercommons
  • Institutions, ‘homes’ and politics of control and of care
  • Dread, fear, anxiety and anguish
  • Solidarity, refuge
  • Choreographies and choreopolitics of migration
  • Theatres of stasis and movement
  • Dialectics and cultures of resistance
  • Exposure and enclosure
  • Disobedience, disavowal, dissent
  • Languages of kinship: sisterhood and the gendering of revolt
  • Divide and rule: politics of segregation
  • Borders, walls, bridges and tunnels
  • Compounds, asylums, pastures and fields: dramaturgies and dramas of ‘freedom’

Please email all abstracts (no more than 300 words in length), an additional few sentences of biographical information and precise details of the audio-visual technology you will need to make your presentation to Kélina Gotman (, Daniela Perazzo Domm ( and Fred Dalmasso (

The deadline for the submission of proposals is Friday 20 April 2018.

 TaPRA supports and encourages postgraduate students, unaffiliated early career researchers and independent artists to attend this event. Two bursary schemes are available which provide a conference fee waiver to a limited number of successful applicants. For further details see here:

Please indicate in your application if you are eligible and wish to be considered for either scheme.

Please note: Only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2018 Conference. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Papers. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the conference; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the conference venue.