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Conference 2019



This interdisciplinary and bilingual conference brings together a diverse group of scholars, performance artists, and media developers to discuss the challenges and advantages of interpersonal, political, cultural and performative dialogues produced under the irreversible changes in communication technology. After witnessing Donald Trump’s life-changing political decisions continuously performed on social media and Saudi Arabia’s extreme diplomatic reaction to a single tweet from Foreign Affairs Canada, it has become painfully clear technology has forever altered all forms of human communication from everyday conversations to global political positioning.

Theatre and performance arts remains one of the primary public venues to discuss the power and the faults of such technological mediation. Hence, this conference’s primary objective will be engagement with growing linguistic and cultural gaps happening in cultural interactions throughout contemporary performance environments, which are changing rapidly due to accessible emerging technological innovations. Theatre is already using aspects of augmented reality, interactive surtitles, immersive digital content, as well as promotional campaigns in multiple languages mediating messages on stage or in public forums. This conference aims to provide a framework for interpreting new levels of meaning generated by evolving technologies in performance, especially amongst our wider interdisciplinary and cultural communities.

The second focus point of this gathering will be investigating the place of technological, performative and language based mediations between people and the state, specifically in the situations of asylum seekers, refugee claimants, and other forms of personal interactions with authorities. Hospitality can be ambivalent, as Derrida reminds us, specifically when claims for asylum are made in the language of the host thereby mediating protection seekers into vulnerable and precarious positions. Theatre and performance arts is at the forefront of cultural performances interrogating the influence, power, and liabilities of such state-level mediations.

Using a variety of performance theories, communications research, and participatory media, this conference will workshop new critical responses to pressing conversations happening between cultural groups and technology. Participants are invited to examine questions of translation, performance mediation, use of technology, and media influence as manifested historically, conceptually and practically in theatre and cultural performances. Possible topics of inquiry include:

  • philosophical and ethical conceptualizing of performance mediation and use of technology;

  • language, mediation, and performance;

  • technological mediation in governmental laws and political discourses;

  • migration, mediation and urban space: communal living in the past and in the age of mobility;

  • politics of mediation in social media and everyday life;

  • performance technology and education

In addition to these topics and specifically in the context of the Canadian state, the organizing committee will be curating academic panels and performative events dedicated to public and artistic discourses related to the history and current practices of multilingualism in Canada. Through research presentations, performative workshops, and other conference activities, we aim to discuss, analyze, and conceptualize the leading role Canada—its political, economic and cultural practices, as well as media discourses—plays in understanding how communication technology has changed us, both through its historical paradigms and as a defining aspects of today’s global society.

Send your inquiries to

Dr. Peter Kuling (pjk@uottawa.ca)

Dr. Yana Meerzon (ymeerzon@uottawa.ca)