Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Studies in Theatre and Performance
For a Special Issue on
Caribbean Carnival Space and New Media
01 November 2023
08 March 2024
Caribbean Carnival Space and New Media
Historically, theorists have identified marginal physical space, performance, transgression and rebellion as key components of Carnival. On the one hand, Victor Turner suggests that Carnival “allows a place for spontaneous invention and improvisation in the course of any given performance” (1987, 26); on the other, Joseph Roach calls this spontaneity into question in his assertion that “Carnival and the law conspire together to craft a contingent margin of behavior that remains easily within the laws’ reach, if need be, but hovers provisionally outside of their grasp” (1996, 252). In turn, this close relationship between the supposed rule-makers and rule-breakers prompts Richard Schechner to ask “If people believe that they are collectively sovereign, then against whom is carnival staged? From what overall authority is carnival a relief?” (2004, 3).
Caribbean carnivals embody these paradoxes, constructed simultaneously as celebrations of harmony and dangerous zones of violence and lawlessness. Their association with physical space – for example, Port of Spain, Notting Hill, and Brooklyn – is contingent on policing and management. However, with the emergence of digital platforms and practices in Carnival, celebratory sites are also constituted through alternative “spaces,” such as networked communication and web content, both as adjunct and grassroots alternative to the main physical event. As has become particularly evident in the enforced trend of moving into virtual spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, this has complicated notions of space and place.
COVID-19 resulted in cancellations of Caribbean Carnivals across the world in 2020 and 2021. However, these cancellations also gave rise and visibility to creative and innovative new ways to understand Carnival. At the same time constraints and hegemonic forces in the form of algorithmic inequalities, platform architecture and the attention economy have become pressing issues for many organisers and participants.
This special issue considers how new media and digital spaces have transformed Carnival, the form of celebrations and/or Carnival participants. We ask how new media has changed these understandings of Carnival as performance. How are spontaneity, the law, rebellion, and the transformative potential of rites refigured in the current online representation of Carnival spaces? How have online spaces reshaped the understanding, organisation and consumption of Carnival in that period and what is the future of Carnival post-pandemic? We seek to contribute to an understanding of digital practices in relation to Carnival as an often-contradictory cultural form which “reflects and refracts hierarchies of oppressive power within a society and both emphasises and reduces the tensions and paradoxes within a community” (Marshall Zobel 2018).
Furthermore, we are interested in how far digital and new media provide us with spaces to disseminate the experiences of Carnivalists themselves and to develop co-creative research processes or to think about practice-based research in the Carnival space. This issue will look at the growing world of Carnival digitalscapes in the effort to think about what Carnival means today and how these new Carnivals are concatenations of what came before with what is to come.
About the Editors
Dr Hanna Klien-Thomas is a Research Fellow for the Creative Industries Research and Innovation Network at Oxford Brookes University. Her research interests are in popular culture, audiences and digital media practices. Hanna’s PhD project on Bollywood in the Anglophone Caribbean was funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences and she was an affiliate scholar at the Institute of Gender and Development Studies in St. Augustine (University of the West Indies).
Dr Alison McLetchie obtained a PhD in Sociology in 2013, MA in Anthropology, and Certificate in Museum Management in 2003 from the University of South Carolina (USC). Her primary research interest includes race, ethnicity, economic inequality, calypso, religion, Caribbean Carnivals in the Carolinas, behavioural and sexual health among Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) students, inclusion and diversity on HBCU campuses, la Divina Pastora, and Caribbean Catholic music. Her co-authored paper, ‘Perceptions of COVID-19 in a sample of female clergy’ was published in January 2022 in the edited volume, Christianity and COVID-19: Pathways for Faith. In 2019, Alison delivered the Saul O. Sidore lecture at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She has given the Cheryl Herrera Memorial Lecture for the Conference on Theology in the Caribbean Today in 2019 and 2016. Working with filmmaker George ‘Buddy’ Wingard, she completed the documentary, ‘We Came A Long Way By Faith: Catholic Hill and St. James the Greater Catholic Church,’ about one of the oldest African American parishes in South Carolina, which debuted in March 2020. Alison is an assistant professor at South Carolina State University, teaching anthropology and sociology in the Department of Social Sciences.
Dr Natalie Wall is an interdisciplinary researcher focusing on black women’s performance, artivism, and antiracist praxis in the Caribbean diaspora. She has recently published “Catching Bullets with Her Ass: Matrilineality and the Canadian Dub Poetry Tradition in the Work of d’bi.young anitafrika” in the Journal of West Indian Literature and was the academic keynote speaker for the inaugural “Ubuntu! Fest,” an online symposium titled “Praxis, Performance & Pedagogy” (August 2022). She has also written a critical introduction for the anthology dubbin theatre: the collected plays of d’bi.young anitafrika, forthcoming in 2023.
What Should Submitted Articles Consider?
Submissions should be as creative and aspirational as Carnival itself. While traditional research articles are accepted, authors may also want to make alternative and non-conventional submissions, like visual art, videos, poetry, interviews, etc. Possible topics for work could be as follows:
- Carnival and digital communities
- The politics of carnival spaces
- Carnival and algorithmic disparity
- Teaching Carnival
- Carnival and VR/AR
- Carnival legacies and digital archiving
- Imagining and contesting ‘new’ audiences
- Politics of digital production and representational politics
|1st November 2023||Proposals submitted to special issue editors|
|8th December 2023||Special issue editors send responses to proposals|
|8th March 2024||First drafts submitted for peer review|
|15th April 2024||Reviews returned to authors|
|3rd June 2024||Revisions submitted to special issue editors|
|Winter 2024/5||Special issue published|
To Submit a Proposal
Proposals should be around 300 words with an author biography attached. To submit a proposal for this special issue, please send an email with the subject “Special Issue – Caribbean Carnival Space and New Media Proposal” to [email protected] by Wednesday, 1st November, 2023.
Final submitted articles should be no more than 8000 words and adhere to Studies in Theatre and Performance guidelines. Full articles should be submitted by Friday, 8th March, 2024 and revisions turned around by Monday, 3rd June, 2024.