Deadline: 1st March 2024
The Journal of Black Opera and Music Theatre is the new official journal of the Black Opera Research Network (BORN) and will begin as an annual (one-issue per year) publication. We welcome submissions on opera and other forms of music theatre that center Blackness as a subject, methodology, identity construction or critical lens. We seek articles that explore multinational perspectives and identities. Our perspective is transnational and we are committed to engaging with contested definitions of Blackness that include Africa and its diaspora across the globe. We understand opera and music theatre to be capacious terms and welcome submissions that challenge the putative boundaries of genre. Our goal is to focus on opera and the related forms, of music drama and music theatre both within and beyond the traditions of Broadway and film musical theatre.
In this inaugural issue of the Journal of Black Opera and Music Theatre we invite contributions that explore the topic of (de)coloniality, Blackness, and opera from different methodological, aesthetic, institutional, socio-political, and geographical angles.
A few central themes in our inquiry: Can decolonisation drive significant social transformations? Can decolonisation prompt a wide-ranging reorientation of the politics of artistic institutions and performance? These topics are especially pressing for the institution and genre of opera, often not only described as elitist and Eurocentric but also as an artform of colonisation and imperialism as theorised by Edward Said (Culture and Imperialism, 1993). South African opera composer and musicologist Neo Muyanga sees decolonial potential in opera and music theatre which can serve “as viable platforms for exploring, rather than avoiding, the persistent asymmetries of power between the global North and South, as well as the hidden contingencies these asymmetries portend.” (Muyanga 2020)
These asymmetries of power between the Global North and Global South to which Muyanga refers are a consequence of coloniality. And coloniality, as South American decolonial scholar Walter Mignolo states, is embedded within Western modernity (Mignolo 2011). In this asymmetry of power, the knowledge and concepts of the West devalued those in the colonies and worked to establish the Western views as universal. But the concept of opera can redefine and challenge Western claims of universal hegemonic standards. Therefore, one can ask: How is opera already (and can be in the future) part of alternative knowledge systems to Europe, whose epistemic dominance needs to be dismantled? What does de(coloniality) actually mean for Opera Studies and opera production across the globe? (Venter et al. 2018; Fourie 2020; Hegenbart).
For this special issue on (De)Coloniality, we are especially interested in submissions dedicated (but not limited) to the following:
- Colonial, postcolonial and decolonial practices of opera and music theatre in different countries of the Global South and Global North
- Structural barriers in opera/music theatre
- Institutional structures and Black empowerment
- Concepts of “diversity” in institutional structures
- Performative archives of memory: history, politics, myths, and rituals
- Global collaborations
- Methodological approaches of Blackness and a focusing lens concerning opera analysis
- Applied Theatre, theatre of social critique, interventions, and protest
- Genre transformation
- Historical contributions about Persons of Color as composers and librettists with their works
- Cultural policies around (de)coloniality and opera/music theatre
- Histography and opera studies: reflections on opera compendia and encyclopaedia/dissecting historically Eurocentric narratives
- Opera as a sphere of knowledge making
- Identity construction in Black opera
We are an online journal that will publish submissions of traditional articles, artist interviews, and shorter statements about related to the issue topic of (de)coloniality. Word counts include footnotes.
Traditional single-authored and co-authored articles: Not to exceed 8000 words
Artist interviews: Not to exceed 5000 words
Topical Statements: Not to exceed 2000 words
Topical Statements may be on a current opera or musical theatre event, an archival issue or a specific archive (archive here broadly means a collection or an exhibit), or a position statement on decoloniality and what opera and music theatre might mean in different countries of the Global South and Global North.
We look forward to receiving your submissions,
Fourie, William. 2020. “Musicology and Decolonial Analysis in the Age of Brexit.” Twentieth-Century Music 17 (2): 197–211.
Hegenbart, Sarah. 2020. “Decolonising Opera: Interrogating the Genre of Opera in the Sahel and Other Regions in the Global South.” In "Gefühle Sind Von Haus Aus Rebellen": Musiktheater Als Katalysator Und Reflexionsagentur Für Gesellschaftliche Entwicklungsprozesse, edited by Dominik Frank, Ulrike Hartung, and Kornelius Paede, 167-194. Thurnauer Schriften zum Musiktheater Band 42. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.
Mignolo, Walter D. 2011. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Latin america otherwise. Durham: Duke University Press.
Muyanga, Neo. 2020. “A Revolt in (More Than Just) Four Parts.” In African Theatre 19, edited by Christine Matzke, Lena van der Hoven, Christopher Odhiambo, and Hilde Roos, 17–28: Boydell and Brewer Limited.
Venter, Carina, William Fourie, Juliana M. Pistorius, and Neo Muyanga. 2018. “Decolonising Musicology: A Response and Three Positions.” (36/37): 197–211.Read more about Call for Submissions: