Call for Proposals: ‘Turning Animal’, Performance Research Journal: Vol. 22, Issue 3


[category, conferences & calls for papers]

Performance Research
Vol. 22, No. 3: ‘Turning Animal’ (June 2017)
Issue Editors: Nicolas Salazar Sutil & Ric Allsopp

Proposal Deadline: 1st July 2016

This issue of Performance Research invites creative and critical explorations into the question of interspecies transformation or the act of ‘turning into’— specifically in terms of humans turning into animals or vice-versa (therianthropy). Turning Animal will probe the human and the animal as unstable categories through the medium of performance, inviting notions of post-human and post-animal, or indeed a loss of categorical distinction in the classical Aristotelian sense (i.e. animal is slave to human).

Challenging the Aristotelian split, we wonder why the animal category is often inclusive of the human animal, whereas the human category is so often exclusive or prevalent. New materialist approaches are recasting these ontological categories whilst shifting the critical focus to synthetic, networked, fused forms of agency across human and animal subjectivities. Drawing on key notions such as ‘becoming animal’ in Deleuze and Guattari’s work (2004), the phenomenology of David Abram (2010), the work of Rosi Braidotti (2013) and Brian Massumi (2014), the idea that we are turning into animals in order to leave behind a humanistic and anthropocentric epistemology continues to gain ground in political bio-philosophy.

The issue of becoming animal can be discussed not only in philosophical terms, however, but also in relation to creative practices, for instance in relation to the affordances of bio-technological research and genetic engineering, particularly in terms of the artificial manipulation of genomes in living organisms. What is at stake here is an ethical question concerning the boundaries, if any, between human and animal species, as well as the logistic and practical problems in science and technology involving laboratory-based mutation, modification, cloning, synthesising, hybridising and chimaera-making out of manipulated bio-cellular information.

Are scientific practices informing creative practice in the performing arts? How does digital performance, for instance, embody the process of turning into animal? What examples of technologically mediated performance involving therianthropy, zoomorphism, and animal guising could be used as suitable case studies? Might the focus on genetic engineering blur the distinction between human and animal categories, emphasising genetic information that is common to and shared by different living forms? How does the fabrication of new animal forms and new animal bodies through the material agency of bio-technology inform new kinds of subjectivity and expressivity? In what way does the category of the post-animal, the animal as conceived within a posthumanist epistemology, open up new understandings of the agency of bio-things?

Three possible areas of performance practice that could be explored in this issue are:
• Theatrical and ritual performance of an animalistic kind, featuring body techniques like shapeshifting, animal guising, animal masquerading, therianthropy, and zoomorphism within pre-digital technological contexts.
• Digital performance, where technological media serves as a basic condition for interspecies or transpecies alteration— e.g. zoomorphic avatarism, robotic therianthropy, ‘performance animism’ (see Kozel 2008).
• Bio-technological performance, involving the transformation of animal life through bio-engineering and techno-scientific intervention (cloning, mutation, genetic modification, cross-breeding, etc.)

We are especially keen on theoretically backed explorations that can combine performance perspectives with a related field of research in the life sciences and bio-humanities. Approaches that establish critical connections between performance research and key fields such as zoology, zoomorphology, morphogenesis, genetics, animal science, ethology, or biotechnology, are particularly welcome.
Likewise, we are interested in case studies that stretch the notion of post-animal performance beyond stage-based contexts

Some indicative areas of interest that we would like to see represented in this volume include, but are not limited to:

• Expressivity and subjectivity of therianthropes and techno-therianthropes
• Ethological relations within interspecies performance, especially across biological and technological contexts
• Ethical problems raised by technological transformation, laboratory experimentation and testing on animals
• Transformation of material subjectivity of electronic animals in online/ virtual worlds
• Techniques of embodiment in shapeshifting, zoophilia and therianthropy within digital performance
• Metal-animal performance, and material conjunctions between animals and machines (e.g. bionic animals, animal prosthetics, animal bio-design)
• Performative perspectives on technological chimeras and digital mythic beasts in popular culture (e.g performative research within animation, game or new media studies)
• Critical research in relation to social performance and social biography of robotic pets, animated or animal-like appliances, commodities, things
• Political agency and animal rights research, especially in relation to a performance perspective
• Performance animism, and questions concerning a spiritual sense of empowerment in the act of turning into animal (i.e. in ritual performance, techno-shamanism, etc.)

Proposals: July 2016
First Drafts September 2016
Final Drafts: January 2017
Publication: June 2017

ALL proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct to the PR Office:
Issue-related enquiries should be directed to the issue editors:
Nicolas Salazar Sutil: n.salazar
Ric Allsopp: ricallsopp

General Guidelines for Submissions:
• Before submitting a proposal we encourage you to visit our website – – and familiarize yourself with the journal.
• Proposals will be accepted by e-mail (MS-Word or Rich Text format (RTF) and should not exceed one A4 side.
• Please include your surname in the file name of the document you send.
• If you intend to send large images electronically, please contact info first to arrange the best means of doing so.
• Submission of a proposal will be taken to imply that it presents original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
• If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit an article in first draft by the deadline indicated above. On the final acceptance of a completed article you will be asked to sign an author agreement in order for your work to be published in Performance Research.