Comedy, Humourlessness and the Gimmick

8 Februari, 10:00-13:00 hrs
PCHooft, room 4.22

Reading Session Berlant & Ngai on Comedy, Humourlessness and the Gimmick. Organized by Eva Sancho Rodriguez and Esther Peeren.

“Comedy has issues” is the opening argument of a special issue edited by two leading authors in affect theory. Join us for a reading session devoted to the new issue of Critical Inquiry, edited by Lauren Berlant (author of Cruel Optimism) and Sianne Ngai (Ugly Feelings, Our Aesthetic Categories). In this session, we will concentrate on discussing the texts listed below, which we kindly ask you to read beforehand.

  • Berlant, Lauren, & Ngai, Sianne. (2017). “Comedy Has Issues” Critical Inquiry,  43, no. 2 (Winter 2017): 233-249.
  • Berlant, Lauren. “Humorlessness (Three Monologues and a Hairpiece)” 305-340.
  • Sianne Ngai, “Theory of the Gimmick” 466-505.

The text on humourlessness builds on the work Lauren Berlant presented here at ASCA during her workshop in 2015.

Organizers: Eva Sancho Rodriguez & Esther Peeren. Please email Eva ( to receive a link to the readings.

Sound in Action – Compatibility and Space

Date: 28th of February, 20:00
Location: De School, Doctor Jan van Breemenstraat 1, Amsterdam
Free Entrance, please RSVP: soundinactioninfo[at]

In the second event of Sound in Action, Compatibility and Space, we will reflect on the intersection of urban-space crisis, sound and music. How political is the sound of a music scene? How does sound reflect and define a social environ, and how does it both promote and restrain the encounter of bodies? De School and its dark basement will be the starting point for reflection.

Feminist studies and queer studies scholar Sarah Ahmed has said on gentrification that “there are technologies that stop us from being affected by certain bodies; those that might be in the way of how we occupy space”. De School is a site of encounters. In its dark, smoke-filled basement, bodies dance and sweat through (un)choreographed moves. Photos are not allowed. Identities are blurred and tolerance finds its way through the beats of the bass. On Sundays, it becomes the playground of a scene within a scene. However, De School, which operates within the local government’s urban regeneration policy, will close in less than two years as the contract with the city hall will end and the building will be torn down.

What impact do local policies have on people, bodies, behaviours and on music scenes? How can sub-cultures find their way within the current urban-space crisis? We will address these and other questions through an interdisciplinary panel. Audience participation is highly encouraged. A DJ set will follow.

Our Guests

marum is as an artist, curator, writer and DJ based in Berlin. In his practice he explores the relation of digital technologies in gender, queer and feminist politics, having particularly focused on cybernetics, surveillance and capture technologies, clubbing culture and alien-phenomenology. marum is the initiator, booker and resident of mina, a techno party for gender and sexual liberation in Lisbon. marum hosts VANTABLACK, a monthly show at Rádio Quântica, for which he invites DJs, producers and promoters to play music and to debate gender politics and feminism in the electronic music and clubbing scene. As a DJ marum has partnered with Resident Advisor and Boiler Room and has appeared in festivals such as Festival Forte and CTM. Next month, marum has their debut at Berghain.

marum will share a first hand experience of the interference of the urban-space crisis with a music scene. For over a year, mina have had serious problems in organising their parties due to the rising pressure of the financialisation of urban space in Lisbon.

Dr. Agnieszka Wolodzko is a researcher at the Centre for Arts in Society at Leiden University and lecturer at AKI Academy of Art and Design, ArtEZ, working, among others, within New Materialism and Philosophy of Art. In her research she investigates ways in which art, by using living bodies as its medium, reveal overall cultural, social and political significance of affect in the contemporary understanding of biotechnologically manipulated bodies. Since 2016, she has worked at the AKI, coordinating biolab and teaching philosophy of art, lecturing in BIOMATTERs, an artistic research program that explores how to work with living matters. Since 2017, she has been a lecturer at Leiden University teaching courses on posthumanism and intersection between art, ethics and biotechnology.

In this evening, Agnieszka Wolodzko will reflect on the implication of constricting risky encounters, of caring for the multiple agencies and of living within relationality and contamination of bodies.

Jaap Draaisma is co-founder and ceasing director of Urban Resort, a non-profit which develops and manages breeding grounds for artists, artisans, freelancers and starters in Amsterdam. Jaap Draaisma became involved in the squatters’ movement in 1976. Later, he sought his way between illegal cracking and opportunities to legalise squats. Much has been achieved, but with the legalisation, part of the bustling initiative was lost too. With Urban Resort, Jaap Draaisma’s goal is to offer places to work and experiment freely on an artistic and social level, to create spaces where old and new Amsterdamers live together, eventually making the city accessible and diverse.

Taufan ter Weel is an architect, artist and researcher with an interdisciplinary approach at the intersection of sound art, architecture and socio-spatial research. Besides carrying out collaborative and independent projects, he works as guest teacher at TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture. He has worked as instructor and guest teacher at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (Built Environment department). Furthermore, he was a research member of Cohabitation Strategies in Rotterdam as well as artistic leader and co-leader of Blikopener Festival & Productions in Delft. He performs live electronic music since 2001. His research has led to the sound art projects “Gentrifriction”, “Intensive Territories: Politics of Amplification” and “Listening to Machines”, among others.

Hannah Pezzack, moderator – Hannah Pezzack is currently studying a Research Master’s in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. She has written and worked for VICE, Unseen Amsterdam, Subbacultcha and Latitude Festival, among others.

Who Are We?

Sound In Action is an initiative that aims to bring to the public realm a demonstration of how music, sound and performance make tangible change to society. Our initiative is an overt form of opposition to the education budget cuts in the Netherlands as well as similar issues in education worldwide. Cuts in education, in particular in the humanities, disrupt the freedom for knowledge transmission by superimposing a service/consumer relationship mode within an educational institution. Because the humanities do not create a product that can be fed into a capitalist environ, this type of knowledge is undervalued and thus underfunded. By drawing attention to the knowledge of the humanities in action we are showing how this type of education is discursive and does not need to be justified to exist.


Sound in Action is made possible by the generous support of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and the Music Studies department of the University of Amsterdam. For this event we wish to thank De School for hosting Sound in Action and particularly to Anne van der Weijden for all the support.

Do you want to support Sound in Action? A 10€ donation will grant you a meal at De School café on the night of the event and help us cover production costs.
In parallel: marum will kickstart this event on the 26th of February between 10am and 11am with a DJ set at Amsterdam’s iconic online radio, Red Light Radio.

On Facebook and Twitter: @soundinaction

Between Myth and Memory: Contemporary Politics and the Performance of History

An interdisciplinary one-day symposium on 25 April 2019 at the Centre for Performance and Urban Living, University of Surrey

— Call for Papers —

Keynote: Dr. Sophie Nield (Royal Holloway, University of London)

The practices that make up the performances of contemporary politics stand in complex tension with the past. Efforts to locate the roots of present-day democracy in the Athenian city-state might negate historicity in favour of myth (Ridout 2008). On the other hand, shared myths of democratic community might serve concrete purposes, upholding norms of behaviour and modes of thought not encoded in the law. The rise of radical right-wing populism, for instance, has raised alarm over the erosion of traditions of political behaviour (Levitsky and Ziblatt 2018). This has put the political left in an intriguing quandary: caught between the desire to challenge myths of Western democracy and the championing of a small-c conservatism that staves off the ongoing wreckage of a flawed but still valued political culture.

Conversely, an ahistorical perspective might assume not only that present political practice is unproblematically linked to the ancient polis, but also that the present marks a radical break with the past. One might think here of Fredrick Jameson’s (1996) position that, in postmodernity, ‘time consists in an eternal present’ and deferred catastrophe. Or one might think of social science scholars, who tend to assume that mediatisation has made the performative features of politics worthy of study in the contemporary moment, as local communities of active citizens have been turned into global audiences that are performed to (Manin 1997; Moffitt 2016). Performance, then, is seen as a new problem, as particularly, perhaps even exclusively, relevant to the now.

As part of the University of Surrey’s new Centre for Performance and Urban Living (dir. Patrick Duggan), this symposium aims to challenge views that posit the performances of contemporary politics as apparently ahistorical practices. To what extend does our ability to imagine alternative futures depend on our memory of partial, resistant, but also temporally and spatially specific upheavals of the structures of social and political life (Nield 2006, 2015)? What might be gained if we consider the process and potential value of how shared myths become embedded in political communities? And how can we interrogate the ways in which the theatre of politics perpetuates, modifies, and obfuscates its own connections to and our memories of the historically or mythologically conceived past?

Contributors may wish to take any of the following themes as points of departure (though the symposium is NOT limited to these):

  • Public speech acts and the performativity of institutions
  • Collective and public memory of the nation/the state/politicians/political communities
  • Performance histories of populism
  • Evolutions of concepts of democracy, liberalism, political representation, the body politic, etc.
  • Mythical forms of political identification
  • Myth and the harnessing and sustaining of power
  • Performances of national, regional, and urban identity, ideas of inclusiveness/exclusion, and their evolution
  • Historicized and localized performances of political identity
  • The mass media as driver of performance practices vs. performance practices that drive the media
  • The performance and evolution of legitimacy
  • Tropes and metaphors in the performance of politics
  • Representations of the political past and present in politics, popular culture, and the theatre
  • Theatricality as a feature of political life
  • The misrecognition and false identification of breaks and continuities
  • Ritual, ceremony, veneration, and myth in politics, parliament, and urban political contexts
  • Traditions, inventions, and roots of practices of protest, opposition, resistance
  • Effects of mediatisation and liveness on the theatre of politics
  • Historical representations of gender, race, class in politics

Submission format: An abstract of 250-300 words, plus a bio (max. 100 words) for each contributor. Presentations in a range of formats are welcome; however, if you wish to present in a non-conventional format, or require specialist equipment, please include an additional paragraph (no more than 150 words) outlining what you need.

Deadline: 8 March 2019. All proposals should be submitted to Dr Julia Peetz:

A link for registration will be available nearer the time. Registration will be charged at £20 (with institutional affiliation) and £5. (unaffiliated / student). The symposium will include lunch, coffee, and a wine reception.


Jameson, F. 1996. The Seeds of Time. NY: Columbia UP.

Levitsky, S., and D. Ziblatt. 2018. How Democracies Die: What History Reveals about Our Future. NY: Crown.

Manin, B. 1997. Principles of Representative Government. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Moffitt, B. 2016. The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style, and Representation. Stanford: Stanford UP.

Nield, S. 2015. ‘Tahrir Square EC4M: The Occupy Movement and the Dramaturgy of Public Order.’ The Grammar of Politics and Performance, ed. S. M. Rai and J. Reinelt. London: Routledge, 121-133.

——. 2006. ‘There Is Another World: Space, Theatre and Global Anti-Capitalism.’ Contemporary Theatre Review 16.1: 51-61.

Ridout, N. 2008. ‘Performance and Democracy.’ The Cambridge Companion to Performance Studies, ed. T. C. Davis. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 11-22

This CFP is also available on the university website.


Examining Past Performances from a Present-day Perspective

Workshop Performance Historiography

Examining Past Performances from a Present-day Perspective. Call for participation , 12 & 13 September 2019, Ghent University

The interdisciplinary research groups THALIA and GEMS organise a workshop for early career researchers on the theme of performance historiography, considering theatre, music, rituals, religious processions, political demonstrations and other forms of performances in the past. Whereas the existing body of literature on such historical performances is rather anecdotal and tends to approach them through/as merely written sources, this workshop intends to consider them as experiences that are bodily and emotional events. We aim to explore how contemporary theory can help us understand their function in historical time and space.

During this two-day workshop, participants will have the unique opportunity to discuss questions on methodology or specific case studies with specialists in the field. Jane Davidson (University of Melbourne), Morag Josephine Grant (University of Edinburgh) and Henry Turner (Rutgers University) will each give a lecture and provide feedback on the work of the participating young researchers.

We encourage PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers and advanced master students from various disciplines such as theatre and literary studies, musicology, media studies, cultural history, (early) modern history, political science, and anthropology to subscribe to the workshop by sending us a short note on how the theme of this workshop relates to their own research interests by March 15th.

Please find more information about the speakers and the preliminary set-up and program on the website. If you have any questions or remarks, do let us know. We look forward to receiving your application!

(Post)colonial foodways: creating, negotiating, and resisting transnational food systems

CALL FOR PAPERS Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food 2019  (15-16 November)

Because of its manifold effects on individuals, cultures, and countries, from the 15th century onwards the colonial era had far-reaching impacts on existing foodways. Colonial rulers often imposed exploitative food systems upon the colonized, resulting in relationships that have been perpetuated, mediated, and resisted to this day. Because of their troubling and complex legacy, colonial foodways have become an essential theme in recent histories of transnational food production, consumption and trade practices from early modern mercantilism to the present. By shifting the focus from two-way colonizer-colonized relationships towards (post)colonial networks and their various nexuses, truly transnational histories are emerging that decenter Europe and go beyond traditional narratives.

Food history and (post)colonial history intersect in various ways. Theories about exploration and exploitation offer insights into (proto)capitalism and the consumption of commodities, the agency of populations in the Global South, the transfer of food technologies, and the ecological impact of restructuring and repurposing vast areas of land. Studying material culture and (post)colonial food customs, furthermore, advances an in-depth understanding of the historical negotiation of identities and ideologies. The hybridization of national and migrant cuisines, culinary (neo)colonialism, and shifting perceptions of gastronomic ‘authenticity’ all underwrite the continuing influence of the colonial era on how we speak about food and, subsequently, about ourselves.


This year’s Symposium encourages scholars from all relevant fields of research to explore the continuing relevance of the links between (post)colonial studies and food history. We invite abstracts for papers covering any topic related to the study of this theme including, but not limited to, the following:

  • (Post)colonial food rituals and customs
  • Trade, production and consumption of colonial commodities, such as coffee, sugar, chocolate, and spices
  • Migration, diaspora, and hybridization of culinary cultures
  • Negotiation and ways of resistance: agency in (post)colonial food practices
  • Representation and ideologies: nostalgia, tradition and authenticity
  • Colonialism’s nutritional, economic, political, and ecological impacts on global foodways
  • Colonial exploitative food systems, hunger and resilience

Guidelines Paper Proposals

The symposium program consists of plenary keynote lectures, paper presentations and panel discussions. If you are interested in presenting a paper at the symposium, please submit an abstract before 5 March 2019. Please expect to be presenting to an audience of up to 200 people, including academic as well as professional participants. The symposium language is English. Presenters of accepted papers are asked to speak 20 minutes as lively and engaging as possible, followed by a discussion with the panel and the audience under the supervision of a session chair.

Applications should include:

  • Title of proposed paper
  • Abstract (maximum 500 words)
  • Biographical information (short CV)
  • Contact information (e-mail, telephone and postal address)

Applications should be sent by the deadline of 5 March 2019 to:

Notification of acceptance:

As it may not be possible to include everyone’s submission, the organizing committee and advisory board will make a selection. You will be notified if the paper is accepted by 1 May 2019.


The sixth Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food will take place at the Aula of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on 15-16 November 2019. The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food is the result of a collaborative partnership between Special Collections (UvA), the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (UvA) and the research unit Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Ir. Louise O. Fresco; Mrs. Claudia Roden; Prof. Dr. Peter Scholliers; Prof. Dr. Irene E. Zwiep


The symposium is an annual point of assembly and an exchange of knowledge in the field of food history. It intends to stimulate debate and research that bridges the gap between different disciplines. Submissions are encouraged to use an interdisciplinary approach, in which theory and methods from diverse (social) sciences are appropriated or from other disciplines that take a historical stance. Another aim is to transfer academic research to a wider public and stimulate research using the Special Collection of the University of Amsterdam. The symposium is therefore targeted at both an academic and a professional audience.

Organizing Committee

IJsbrand van Dijk; Joke Mammen; Antonia Mazel; Jon Verriet; Ingrid de Zwarte

More information and updates about the symposium