Call for Proposals to Participate in the Symposium:

Boundaries, Borderlands, and Belonging: Translocality and the Navigation of Cultural Movements, Intersections, and Conflicts

10 September 2022 – Reiterkaserne - Kunst Universität Graz (KUG) and Online

A Symposium supported by ASEA-UniNet and the Institute for Ethnomusicology, KUG

Boundaries are reflective of demarcations that divide people and cultures into separate groups/categories based on traits such as race, class, gender, nationality, identity, culture, language or religion. Borderlands are ambiguous or marginal spaces of opportunity where people of different backgrounds and their myriad performance genres interact, argue, and negotiate across what are often artificial or political boundaries (Anzaldúa 1987, Steingo and Sykes 2019, Clisby 2020, Hortsmann et al, 2018). People may claim and construct their own boundaries, or they may be ‘constructed into’ such categories by others. Translocal performance genres travel across boundaries and lodge themselves in new contexts, often taking on localized meanings and practices. This symposium aims to investigate the dynamics of people and performance cultures moving into, out of, across, and through boundaries and borderlands.

A focus on performance cultures moving across boundaries, thriving in the interstices ‘between’ cultures, or in the borderlands between boundaries - whether imagined or real – is not a new phenomenon in ethnomusicology or ethnochoreomusicology. But it is a persistently urgent one. An intentional focus on such areas reminds us that while national boundaries are real if often contested, cultural boundaries are necessarily and productively more fluid. To recognize this is simultaneously an acknowledgement of lived experience and a decolonizing act that provides insight into the unbounded, non-linearity of sonic history as well as the multiple ontologies and agencies of those between/on/in/crossing borders and boundaries in making their own novel cultures as they domesticate sounds, dances, technology and media from other places whether near or far, historically connected or not.  This type of cultural borderland/boundary research has generally been under-represented in official state records, since it challenges notions of fixed cultural boundaries and the ‘authenticity’ of traditions as defined by the hegemonic colonial and nation states, particularly in the Global South, but also in the post-soviet regions, and other internally colonised areas.  It also brings to the fore the cragged and diverse histories of the performing arts of the Indigenous communities and minorities and their ways of knowing, creating sound, listening and moving. 

We invite papers relating any of the ideas inspired by the above statement but particularly those with a focus on: 

  • cross-border identity/identities and performance
  • religious performances and agency across/between boundaries
  • migration 
  • mobility of people and performance
  • translocality
  • gendered and queer borderlands/crossings

This symposium follows 10-years of ongoing, ASEA-UNINET - supported exchange between Austrian, Malaysian, and Indonesian scholars and institutions dedicated to exploring and developing ideas about border politics, translocal performance, and postcolonial performance worlds.

The symposium will take place in hybrid form, and will be coordinated to accommodate the time-zones of presenters, as much as possible.  In addition to invited guests, we look forward to welcoming scholars and students, whether new to or long-familiar with these topics, to submit proposals for presentations or roundtable discussion topics. 

Symposium is organized by Tan Sooi Beng and Sarah Weiss and functions as a pre-conference event for the ESEM conference that is also hosted by the Institute for Ethnomusicology at KunstUniversität Graz and which will take place from 12-16 September 2022.


Call for Paper Proposals: 1 June 2022

Abstracts due: 31 July 2022

Notification of Acceptance: 11 July 2022


  • Anzaldúa, Gloria (1987) Borderlands/La Frontera:The New Mestiza. San Francisco, CA: Spinsters/Aunt Lute.
  • Clisby, Suzanne (Ed). 2020. Gender, Sexuality and Identities of the Borderlands, Queering the Margins. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 2017.  On Intersectionality: Essential Writings. New York: The New Press.
  • Hortsmann, Alexander, Martin Saxer and Alessandro Rippa (Eds). 2018. Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands 1st Edition. New York and London: Routledge. 
  • Steingo, Gavin and Jim Sykes (Eds) 2019. Remapping Sound Studies in the Global South.  Durham: Duke University Press.