Call for Papers: “The Materiality of Festivity”


The Journal of Festive Studies has announced a call for papers for a special issue on “The Materiality of Festivity.” Submissions must be uploaded by December 31, 2019. See details and links to more information below. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

In previous issues, the Journal of Festive Studies explored the emerging academic sub-field of festive studies (broadly defined) and the politics of carnival. For this issue, we follow Peter-Paul Verbeek’s advice and look at “the things themselves,” i.e. at the material culture in which carnivals and other festivities are rooted (Verbeek, 2005).

The 1996 inaugural editorial for the Journal of Material Culture defined Material Culture Studies as “interdisciplinary research in ways in which artifacts are implicated in the construction, maintenance and transformation of social identities” and as the “investigation of the relationship between people and things irrespective of time and place” (Editorial, 1996). More recent studies have expanded the scope of the discipline to look at the agency of things (Latour, 2005), thus rejecting “any absolute ontological distinction between humans and things” (Roberts, 2017). The field has also seen a shift from the exclusive focus on consumption to an investigation of the production of objects and materials (Adamson, 2013 and 2018 and Smith, 2012). Other approaches include investigations of ways in which the exchange of objects shapes social life and experiences; how that process is negotiated intra-cultures (Appadurai, 1986); and the environmental impact of those objects and materials (Clarke-Hazlett, 1997, Ingold, 2012, and Morton, 2013). Furthermore, there has been a move to understand the materiality of things beyond finished manufactured products, or the raw matter of which these objects consist of, in all of its socio-historical and political implications (Lange-Berndt, 2015, Ingold, 2012, and Rosler et al., 2013). Scholars of festivities have also paid attention to the “things” that constitute the phenomena they investigate, whether by poetically capturing in photos and in text the embodiment of Caribbean history and identity in Trinidadian Mas (Adonis Browne, 2018); by analyzing how banners and flags display identity through color in Belfast’s Orange Parade (Jarman, 2003); or by questioning why we consume (or abstain from consuming) certain foods during festivities (Avieli, 2009).

Building on such scholarship, and taking the material record of celebrations from all time periods and geographical areas as a starting point, this special issue of Journal of Festive Studies seeks to explore the following themes/questions:

  • The things themselves: costumes, jewelry, makeup, musical instruments, the body itself, posters, flags and banners, float designs, paintings of Renaissance processions, sheet music, photographs, food, etc. What does the material record of festivities include?
  • The preservation of that material culture: What are the politics of curating and what are the material constraints bearing on archival sites?
  • Objects as part of a mise-en-scène of identity: How is identity created-recreated-negotiated through masking, costumes, makeup, etc.? How is gender and sexual normativity created/expressed/challenged through interactions with objects in celebrations?
  • Imagining communities: What is the role of these objects/materials/artifacts in the creation of imagined communities during these celebrations? How do individuals and communities relive and reinvent traumatic pasts through rituals and the artifacts used to physically manifest them?
  • The evolution and circulation of things: How does the material record of celebrations change over time, reflecting different socio-historical moments? How do geopolitical realities, global capitalism, and the flow of ideas and things affect the material record of celebrations? What role do these objects play in current debates on decoloniality and cultural appropriation?
  • The environmental problems caused by the objects/materials used in festivities (such as the plastic pollution of Mardi Gras beads in the U.S. Gulf Coast) and the environmental solutions encountered by festival organizers and revelers (such as the ban on glitter in Sydney’s LGBTQ Mardi Gras.)

Contributors may also choose to focus on some of the methodological issues faced by scholars researching festivities across the globe and how does material culture feature in these processes. For instance, how does equipment affect the way the researcher interacts with their subject? What sorts of objects, outfits, and accouterments are used in the researcher’s “performance of self” during fieldwork and how might that affect their relation to the people and environment they are observing?

In line with the interdisciplinary nature of the Journal of Festive Studies, we welcome submissions of original research and analysis rooted in a variety of fields including (but not limited to): social and cultural history, anthropology, archeology, cultural geography, art history, architecture, decorative arts, technology, folklore, musicology, consumption studies, labor studies, museum studies, and design studies. In addition to traditional academic essays, we invite contributions that incorporate digital media such as visualizations, interactive timelines and maps, video and imagery.

All documents should be between 6,000 and 12,000 words and should be uploaded by December 31, 2019 to the journal’s website, along with the author’s bio and an abstract of c. 250 words. Please consult the author’s guidelines under “Submissions” on the website for further submission specifications, such as citation methods. Please contact Isabel Machado ( with any questions.

Sources: or

[Photo by Kevin Adonis Browne from High Mas: Carnival and the Poetics of Caribbean Culture.]

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