EJTP CfP: Exile and (Neo)Nationalism

European Journal of Theatre and Performance (EJTP)

Call for Proposals, Issue 9

Exile and (Neo)Nationalism

Guest editors: Yana Meerzon and Pieter Verstraete

(proposal deadline: 1 August 2024)


In the last few decades, we have seen an increase of migration waves testing the border policies of (Fortress) Europe whilst impacting cultural debates and artistic expressions around asylum, exile, and (forced) displacement. The latter has also caused an increase of supportive cultural programs dedicated to art in exile. In literary, cultural, and theatre scholarship, we have seen the emergence of diaspora as a critical concept for reflecting on contemporary politics, the state of our democracies, and established definitions of societies and communities, calling into question deep-rooted nation-state models. In fact, as Meerzon (2012) has suggested, diasporic and exilic communities pose a direct counter-arrangement to Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’ (1983), as a product of their own collective imagination and practices of integration. The exilic community, on the contrary, is based on rupture, disparateness, and bifurcation, but also on a shared experience of displacement, which defines newly forming transnational communities. It was Brecht who already referred in his exilic poem ‘Über die Bezeichnung Emigranten’ (‘On the Term Emigrants’, 1937) to the exiles as ‘us’ against ‘them’, those who expelled.

Underneath these new communities lie deeper tragedies of escape from armed conflict, from economic crisis, from tyrannical rulers or governments on which the present rise of ultra-right-wing and nationalist groups looms its long shadows. They play a role in the latter’s nostalgic narratives for a pre-globalisation nationalism. Yet the exiled roam also with a sense of territory or country with them, and a ‘shame that stains our country’, as Brecht would write in his poem (1937, our trans.). Hence, in this EJTP theme issue, we want to examine how exilic life as a significant expression of contemporary human experience is entangled with pressing questions of (neo)nationalism and associatedsubjects like war, humanitarian devastation, and (post)colonialism.

Exile is of course not only a lifestyle or phenomenon of the last decades. Many have designated the twentieth century (starting actually from mid-nineteenth century) as the ‘age of exile’ (Aprile, 2010), which under the cosmopolitanism of late capitalism extends well into the twentieth-first century. However, our current refugee crises beg the question of differentiation and comparison of exilic communities and their cultural expressions. The theatre and performing arts have played an important role in the imaginations of the exiled, the obliqueness of the exilic experience, as well as the collective and individual traumas of ostracism in the face of democracies and institutions that have become fragile, instable, or dysfunctional. Fictionalization of the exilic position in creative (play)writing has not only been done by exiled artists but also by those who have witnessed the new waves of immigrants. Thus, we can ask ourselves the following questions: What are the accepted stories of exile that make it to the stage and institutions; and what are the counternarratives of exile to our present nation-states? In this context, theatre and the performing arts have an important role to play in seeking redefinitions of the difficult nexus between exile and (neo)nationalism.

The recent rise of the political far right and populism in Europe and globally — including the Brexit movement in the UK, the Front National (FN) in France, the Alternative for Germany (AFD), the successes of the extreme right-wing Jobbik party and Viktor Orbán’s national-conservative Fidesz party, the recent electoral victory of Geert Wilders’ Forum for Democracy (FvD) in the Netherlands, or Vladimir Putin’s recent turn to militarization and fascism, to name a few — positions theatre and performance arts at the forefront of cultural resistance, resilience, and mediation. In these times of often government-endorsed xenophobia, racism, and nationalist sentiments, theatre artists play a role in addressing this ‘political turn’ and examine alternatives of ethical, political, and artistic response-ability. Through different aesthetic ways, one could say, they react to the ‘biopower’ (Foucault, 1978) that connects the brutality of the nation-state with the infatuation for racism.

Nevertheless, many European theatre companies find themselves at the slippery crossroads between the state funding that they enjoy, the political mandate that they must carry, and the ethical, political, and artistic positions put forward by their government-appointed artistic directors and/or teams. These crossroads have recently become even more slippery and dangerous, when funding is cut because of an ideological dispute against the hegemony of a state-apparatus.

Following these observations and thoughts, we invite essays (max. 9.000 words) along the next four lines of inquiry:

  1. What constitutes the complicity and/or responsibility of art institutions in the triangle between ideological pluralism, funding structures, and works of exilic or migrant theatre practitioners? Who is privileged? How can one ‘play (within) the system’?
  2. How do theatre and the performing arts play a role in representative claim-making of artists in exile vis-à-vis their home countries, ‘Europe’, and/or their newly receiving localities? How has the idea of a collective identity as a form of nationhood changed since the last fifty years in Europe and beyond, and how does theatre help to imagine, remember, commemorate, rebuild, or deconstruct these identities?
  3. How does the exilic position help to question the nexus of cosmopolitanism and migration versus debates on post-colonialism and imperialism?
  4. How does the ‘exilic performative’ expose, resist, resignify, or perhaps reproduce rhetorical devices of populism, (micro)nationalism, and nationhood?

Submissions may include but are not limited to these questions. Please indicate one or two theoretical frameworks from which you want to develop your line of argument. We are particularly interested in submissions on the current situation which may include comparative, postcolonial, and intersectionalist approaches, possibly building further on concepts from political sociology, cultural studies, cultural heritage, migration and exile studies. We are also interested in theatre-historical analyses since the Fall of the Berlin Wall or the fall of the Soviet Union as a significant historical milestone, yet we do not exclude topics that go further back in history. If relevant, we would appreciate a note of self-positionality vis-à-vis the research subjects.

Proposal submissions:

  • Proposals should be written in UK English, in MS Word format and be between 500 and 700 words. Please include a brief bio (max. 100 words) in your proposal submission and send it by email to the guest editors (see contacts below) by 1 August 2024. Proposals must be based on original, unpublished work not under consideration for publication elsewhere.
  • Proposals should specify in which language the article will be submitted. The journal is open to articles written in the language of the author’s preference, but please note that for all articles written in languages other than English contributors will be asked to secure professional proof-reading.
  • If your proposal is accepted, you will be invited to submit a first draft of your article by 1 November 2024. The maximum length of the final article should not exceed 9000 words (including abstract in English and in at least one additional language, references, author bio, etc.). Submitted articles will undergo a double-blind peer-review process by two anonymous experts.
  • Prospective authors should make sure their submitted articles are in accordance with the EJTP Author Guidelines, which can be downloaded here:https://journal.eastap.com/submission-guidelines/.
  • For more information on the European Journal of Theatre and Performance, please visit:https://journal.eastap.com.


Proposals: 1 August 2024 (note of acceptance by 20 July 2024)

First Drafts: 1 November 2024

Peer Review: 15 December 2024

Second Drafts: 1 February 2025

Final Drafts: 1 March 2025

Publication: May 2025


Issue-related inquiries and proposal submissions should be sent to the issue’s guest editors:

Yana Meerzon, (University of Ottawa): ymeerzon@uottawa.ca

Pieter Verstraete (University of Groningen): p.m.g.verstraete@rug.nl


Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso)

Aprile, Sylvie. 2010. Le siècle des exilés. Bannis et proscrits de 1789 à la Commune

(Paris, CNRS éditions)

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2000. Liquid Modernity (Hoboken: Wiley)

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2011. Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Cambridge: Polity Press)

Brecht, Bertolt. 1967. ‘Über die Bezeichnung Emigranten’, in Gesammelte Werke in 20 Bänden, by Brecht, Bertolt, ed. by Hauptmann Elisabeth (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag), 718

Diaz, Delphine, and Sylvie Aprile. 2021. Les Réprouvés. Sur les routes de l’exil dans l’Europe du XIXe siècle (Paris: Editions de la Sorbonne)

Foucault, Michel. [1972–1977] 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, trans. by Colin, Gordon, Marshall, Leo, Mepham John & Soper, Kate, ed. by Gordon, Colin (New York: Pantheon Books)

——. [1976] 1978. The History of Sexuality. Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. by Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books)

——. 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. by Alan Sheridan (Vintage Books: New York)

Meerzon, Yana. 2012. Performing Exile – Performing Self: Drama, Theatre, Film (Houndmills, Basingstoke, and Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan)

Said, Edward. 2000. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press)