ISFC 2021


2nd Annual International Symposium on Festival Culture (ISFC)

Virtual Symposium - Registration Free 

5th and 6th June 2021 


Pax Nindi FRSA

Dr Deborah Hickling Gordon

Dr Kim Johnson

Dr Rebecca Finkel


ISFC is a two-day inter-, multi-, trans-, and cross-disciplinary symposium that will explore the theme ‘power, empowerment and disempowerment’ in festival culture. In tune with last year’s symposium we continue to focus on (but are not limited to) the creative practices, social benefits, grassroots organising, economic development, tourism, hospitality and events, multiculturalism, diversity, local community involvement, partnerships, religion, and music entrepreneurial networks offered by many festivals. We continue to take note of the many festivals around the world, which are all manifested in varying ways, possessing their own social, religious and cultural practices. Be they past or present, folk, religious, literary, food, drink, alternative or community-based in nature, festivals illuminate discourses of hegemony, homogeneity, race, politics, nationalism, identity and religion etc. We consider that the study of festivals is an emerging discipline, hence it is important to examine festivals from varying perspectives to understand, broaden and articulate the scope of festival studies.


This year’s theme of power questions what is powerful about festival culture and how people are empowered and/or disempowered in and through it. Does festival culture complement our inalienable right to be free, and, if not, why? Does governmental control affect, interrupt, impact, empower or disempower festival culture (makers, spectators, participants etc.)? Are we actively engaged in the organic development of festival culture or are we passively taking in or accepting what is presented to us? 


As we move into the 2020s it seems that our reality is changing. There are those that believe that this change is temporary. Nonetheless, our freedoms as a result of lockdown measures have been curtailed. So how can festival culture help us to re-imagine a reality of power and empowerment? Is our online life enough, and what will festival life and culture look like after lockdown measures have been ended? Have we found new and exciting ways of engaging with festivals, and, if so, what has it taught us?  We also consider if or how lockdown measures have encouraged enterprise or caused damage, and/or losses, to business and entrepreneurship?

Festival Culture Research and Education aims to bring together researchers, costume and craft makers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, organisers and stakeholders, and to invite academics from across disciplines, postdocs and postgraduates at all stages in their research, as well as practitioners seeking to provide creative demonstrations or performances.

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Proposals may also address, but are not limited to, the following themes:


• Business and Entrepreneurialism 

• Combined Arts (Art and Social Agency)

• Creativity, Ingenuity and Creative  Industries

• Culture and the City

• Dress and the Body 

• Embodiment and Materiality

• Feasts and Celebrations

• Festival Activism

• Food and Drink 

• Health and Wellness

• Individuality, Community, Crowds and Togetherness

• Leisure 

• Light and Night Festivals  

• Medieval Culture

• Memory, Nostalgia and Temporality

• Music and Sound Systems 

• Popular Culture in a Time of Lockdowns

• Religious Worship, Belief and Ritualistic Customs

• Resistance, Resilience and Activism

• State and Cultural Politics

• Storying the Festival

• Tourism and Hospitality

Abstract of up to 250 words and biographies of no more than 100 words (Word doc. files) should be submitted by 2 April 2021.

Notification of decisions: 20 April 2021.  
Completed paper pre-recorded presentation deadline: 25 May 2021.
ISFC Registration Open: April 2021.

Please note: As a result of instability with internet connections, and to ensure the event runs smoothly, we have decided that paper presentations will be recorded in advance.


Selected papers will be considered for publishing.


The aim of this symposium is to organise and maintain a festival exchange network, focusing on cultural, community, literary and religious festivals etc. We believe that a festival exchange will be an excellent resource – a means of developing supportive partnerships and understanding the historical, creative and cultural links that may exist between different festivals. It represents an opportunity for academics to gain knowledge that could be of value to their research, and for those outside academia to become more aware of and engaged with academic research that could be a source of both inspiration and knowledge.





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