Circles in the Square: Women, Protest, and Performance

“Circles in the Square: Women, Protest, and Performance”
Organizers Donia Mounsef, Natalie Meisner and Aida Patient
Contact e-mail: Donia Mounsef (, Natalie Meisner ‎(; and Aida Patient ‎(

Call for proposals
Deadline: 31 January, 2019

Protest culture is highly gendered where women have had a complex relationship to how they are perceived as revolutionary participants. While the public sphere, be it mainstream or contested, has been traditionally reserved for men, since the Suffragette’s Movement women have taken to the streets and squares to resist and trouble their own erasure from public life. In recent years, women have been at the center of protest even within movements that do not explicitly foreground the critique of gender as their primary purpose. Using multiple, proliferating, and embodied performances, women’s involvement in protest culture highlights the discursive and material nodes around which gender, bodies, and presence complete and fracture circles of revolutionary conversations. From the Occupy movement, to the Women’s Marches, from Idle no More to NoDAPL, from Black Lives Matter to the #MeToo movement, women are at the forefront of resistance with intersectional feminism frequently at the core of their action and engagement.

This CATR-2019 seminar explores the intersections of gender, bodies, and performance in order to address “material conditions and political landscapes” of the circles of resistance. We invite contributions that deal with the figure of the circle as it pertains to women’s occupying a space in the public sphere, within a framework informed by performance studies, queer, Trans*, LGTQ+, transnational feminism, Indigenous women’s resistance, eco-critical struggle etc. Relevant questions would revolve around the following:

  • What role do women play in progressive revolutions today? And conversely, what role does performance play in the aesthetics and politics of feminist protest?
  • What role do gendered, religious, racialized, and sexualized stereotypes play in shaping the image of the protest circle?
  • In what ways have recent women’s protests amplified or deepened our understanding of intersectional feminism?

We welcome contributions that are interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary in focus, and that address the general theme from a wide theoretical, conceptual, or praxis-based perspectives, including, but not limited to, the following themes:

  • Indigeneity, settler colonialism, decolonization and women’s protest
  • Queer, Trans*, LGBTQ+ perspectives on protest and performance
  • Gendered sites of protest and the public sphere in a ‘post-truth’ era
  • The politics of silence and the politics of visibility / invisibility
  • Surveillance / Sous-veillance and women’s protest
  • Women and new media / social media activism / artivism
  • Environmental circles of resistance and women in the climate marches
  • Specific instances of women’s political and performative resistance, for example:
    • Idle no more
    • Mothers of Plaza de Mayo
    • Anti-Trump Women’s Marches
    • Women in Black Lives Matter
    • Slutwalks
    • Take Back the Night
    • Take Back The Dyke
    • Women Water protectors at Standing Rock
    • Riot Grrrls, Pussy Riot, Femen, etc.
    • Women in the Arab Spring
    • Anti-rape protests in India
    • Women in the anti Alt-Right, and anti gun violence protests in the US
    • France’s Ni putes, ni soumises, etc.

 Seminar Participation Details

The seminar will accept a total of eight participants (for a duration of 2 hours) who will share their work with each other ahead of time, and who will each serve as a discussant on another paper. During the seminar, each discussant will introduce their assigned paper (5 minutes) followed by a short presentation by the participant, then an open discussion with all participants. This seminar will serve as the first step toward bringing together a number of contributions for a collection of essays that will be co-edited by the organizers.

Please send 250 word proposals for your participation and a 200 bio to the organiser’s e-mails listed above by 31 January, 2019.

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