PSi20 will focus on the contrasting and intertwined themes of “Avant-garde, Tradition, Community.” These themes have diverse relationships to performance and underpin interweaving histories of arts and other performative actions alongside the development of performance studies. They are parallel, intercultural and co-located terms that have crossed borders wherein relationships between arts and cultures are renegotiated and transformed.

At this second Psi conference in Asia and the first hosted by an Asian university, we aim to examine these terms in the Asian context and wider cultural-historical geographical contexts. Notions of the avant-garde, of tradition and of community, while broadly relevant in global performance studies, have unique and enduring connections to Asian performance and modernity. PSi 20 will investigate the history surrounding and informing these themes in performance studies.

Each of these influential terms is expressive of contestation and paradox. The term Avant-garde fosters notions of innovation and rebellion for performance practitioners and scholars in the West, and has obtained strong Chinese characteristics since the late 1970s. In broader Asian contexts while its meanings are debated, it has been the harbinger of modernity and interculturalism.

Tradition is often contrasted to the avant-garde (although historical avant-gardes have traditional aspects). Tradition is a diverse concept that connects to modern realism and performances that arise in local community and indigenous contexts. In Asian societies, traditional performance genres include Chinese opera, Noh, Kathakali and Wayang, which have often been utilized, de-contextualized and deconstructed, by Western avant-garde artists. This in turn has inspired a trend among Asian and other non-western artists to engage in processes of “rediscovering” and translating their own cultural traditions. Various avant-garde approaches to traditions have stimulated a great deal of intercultural and cosmopolitical debates. Scholars have also paid attention to ideas of invented traditions and the role of traditional performance in the formation of non-western modernities. The ways that notions of the avant-garde and of tradition are closely connected in Asia and elsewhere is a key question that we highlight for consideration.

Our focus on Community refers to grassroots, nonprofessional artistic, neighbourhoods where pre-modern traditions, modern traditions, and the avant-garde may converge.

While a focus on Asian expressions of these themes is highlighted, Psi 20 welcomes papers, panels, workshops, and performances exploring many issues related to the three key words in various cultural and intercultural contexts. We invite consideration of these themes in comparative and intercultural studies, studies across western and non-western sites and in relation to globalization, modernity, and contemporaneity. Avant-garde, Tradition and Community are positioned here as umbrella terms.

We invite proposals on a range of thematic topics that may include:


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