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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Annual International Conference of African Theatre Association: Call for Papers and Performances

2021 Annual International Conference of African Theatre Association (AfTA)

Ageing, Old Age, and Disability in African and African Diaspora Performance, Film and Festival


The Department of African Studies, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany  July 14th -16th, 2021


Call for Papers and Performances

Critics of performing arts in Africa and its diaspora have engaged with a wide range of topics in their writing, but there is limited critical engagement with ageing, old age, and disability. It is this dearth of critical discourses and debates on old age in African literary and theatre studies that has inspired the theme of the 2021 annual African Theatre Association Conference. The conference invites scholars, practitioners and activists of performance to focus their contributions on three areas which are mutually exclusive, yet incredibly inclusive, namely: ageing, old age—age(able)ism embodied—and disability. AfTA 2021 aims to create a platform on which these contributions will reflect critically on the role, representation, status and significance of elderly people in performing arts (theatre, oral performance, community theatre, drama, spoken word, epics, films, festivals, dance, music etc…) that are connected to Africa and its diaspora. Further, the conference invites contributions that investigate how ageing is entangled with elderly characters, performers, play directors/directing, dramatists and audiences in the debate of ageism, old age and disability in a bid to explore our understanding of performance, its production and reception. Further, the conference aims to engage critical discussions based on varied understandings, perceptions and definitions of old age, ageing and disability, as well as whether there should be any intersection between these categories in African performances, film and festivals. Employing old age, ageing and disability as conceptual frameworks, the conference will provoke debates on how performances articulate these subjects at critical moments of artistic production and performance. The conference seeks to ask questions including: what are the nuances that either shadow or empower the production of performance based on ageing, old age and disability? What are the cultural and transcultural underpinnings espoused when subjects related to ageing, old age and disability are evoked in the performance culture? How do class, sexuality, gender, ethnicity and nationality affect our understanding of these classifications in the context of performance, film and festival? What are the theoretical and methodological conceptualisations that one might draw from to provoke scholarly debates related to ageing, old age and disability in performance, film and festival?

We invite proposals, which focus, but are not limited to the following topics;


The representation of ageing, old age and disability Understanding of ageing, old age and disability Ageism and ableism

Resilience and performance Gender dynamics and masculinities

Queer identity ageing, old age, and disability Intersectionality

Space, time and ageing, old age and ableism

Migration, performance and ageing, old age and disability Questions of existence and ageing, old age, and disability Identity construction

Colonial and postcolonial entanglements

Medialisation of ageing, old age and disability in performance, film and festival Corporeality and materiality of ageing, old age and disability

Imagination of ageing, old age and disability Authority and generational conflict Gerontocracy

Politics, legislature and the notion of ageism and disability Customary practices on ageing and performance culture Intangible mobility of performances: past, present and future The performance of ageism in African culture


Abstract Submission Deadline has been extended to March 15th, 2021.

AfTA 2021 conference is currently planned as an online event, with the possibility of incorporating an in-person element nearer the time.

For questions and inquiries about the conference, please contact the conference convener, Pepetual Mforbe Chiangong, at: aftaconf@hu-berlin.de