CFP: Theatre and the Anthropocene (1 Sep 2018)

Nordic Theatre Studies, Vol. 32, no. 1.

While many indigenous peoples have performed rituals and ceremonies related to the protection and conservation of the earth and its inhabitants, seeing continuity between all living creatures including plants, animals and humans, theatre artists have often addressed similar themes through plays on war, exile, migration, and the threat of nuclear disaster. Recently, ecological themes and environmental sustainability as well as animal rights have entered the performance (as well as the philosophical) area.

The Anthropocene has been defined as the present geological epoch in which the earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity are being slowly disrupted by human intervention. The term has become commonly used since 2002 when Paul Crutzen argued its importance in a Nature article, and since then scientists have debated its credibility and possible starting point, suggesting the end of the eighteenth century (with the birth of the industrial revolution) or 1945 (with the commencement of nuclear weapons testing).

The notion of the Anthropocene raises important questions that concern the sustainability of the planet.  With seas rising and becoming inexorably contaminated, with fish life and plankton dying because of climate change and pollution from plastic, oil, and other forms of human waste, with the destruction of coral reefs (such as the Great Barrier Reef), with the endangerment and extinction of animal species, with huge tracts of land in Africa being leased by China to feed its own population, with African governments encouraging their citizens to go abroad in order to send back foreign income to sustain their national economies, with aggressive mining operations, fertilization, and over-cultivation of land, with the ubiquitous burning of fossil fuels and the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the resultant climate change, with deforestation, drought, desertification, poverty and hunger in the global south forcing increasing waves of migration, with periodic oil disasters and emissions of radiation from nuclear power plants as well as the continual threat of nuclear war, with the rapid increase of the world population to 7 billion (estimated to increase to 10 billion by 2050), Elon Musk has offered a wake-up call by proposing that we need to colonize Mars.

For this issue of Nordic Theatre Studies on “Theatre and the Anthropocene” (to be published by 2020), scholars are encouraged to submit essays relating to the importance of some aspect of the Anthropocene for theatre and performance studies.  We would welcome papers examining how different performances, genres of performance, artistic/practice-based research, and contemporary theatre and performance at large have engaged with aspects of the Anthropocene.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Theatre, performance and animals (such as Beuys, Castellucci, etc.)
  • Indigenous culture and performance
  • Indigenous wardenship of nature in ritual or drama
  • Theatre and technology
  • Theatre and ecology/environment
  • Activism and eco-performance
  • Theatre and artificial intelligence
  • Theatre and climate change
  • Theatre and the nonhuman/posthuman
  • Theatre and migration/refugees
  • The anthropocene and related societal/natural/ecological
    changes/spectacles as performance

Abstracts (200 to 300 words) and a short biography (50-100 words) should be submitted to Prof. Steve Wilmer (, editor of Nordic Theatre Studies, or Prof. Karen Vedel (, co-editor, by 1 September 2018. Applicants will receive decisions by 1 October 2018. Articles based on accepted abstracts are due by 1 April 2019. The length of the article, which must be submitted in English, should be approximately 5,000 to 6,000 words (including footnotes and references).

Nordic Theatre Studies is a peer-reviewed journal, registered with Scopus and Web of Science, publishing two issues a year. The journal is divided into a thematic section, an open section for other topics, and a book reviews section. The journal also publishes occasional shorter essays (which are peer-reviewed and can use a more personal approach). Specialising in Nordic and Baltic theatre research, it prioritizes articles that relate to some aspect of Nordic or Baltic theatre and performance, or that have been written by a scholar resident in a Nordic or Baltic country. It has been a print journal since 1988, and recently converted into an online publication so that it is freely accessible to scholars around the world. (See