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Festival Cultures: Imagined Pasts, Alternative Futures

Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 14:00 to 17:15 and Wednesday, September 15,2021 - 14:00 to 17:15
Location: Virtual Conference, The Open University
Call for Papers: now closed
Deadline for participant registration: 13 September 2021

Conference Convenors: Dr Maria Nita, The Open University and Dr Leonore van den Ende, Vrije University Amsterdam
Conference Team: Dr Marion Bowman, The Open University, Dr Jeremy Kidwell, The University of Birmingham and Dr Graham St John, University of Huddersfield
Conference Programme is now available.

This Festival Research conference will provide an opportunity for an interdisciplinary discussion of past fieldwork on festivals, as well as reflections on present challenges and changes, pre- and post- Covid?

Following from last year's Festivals Research and Covid-19: Virtual Community, Activism, Spirituality, this year’s conference will provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussing festivals during Covid and beyond, alongside historical research into festival cultures.

This conference is concerned with the dynamic connections, relationships, intertextuality and interculturality of festivals, particularly in their constructions of imagined pasts and alternative futures. As an important type of cultural event, festivals provide an opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogue and critical engagement with contemporary and historical publics and places.

The conference will address modern and historical festivals, their connections and disconnections with the state and counter publics, as well as themes such as ritual, community, spirituality, wellbeing and counterculture, and trends such as commercialization, secularization, globalization and cultural innovation.


This conference will consider a range of themes including but not limited to the following:

  • Festivals pre- and post- Covid | Festivals and communities' resilience
  • Festival intertextuality and intercultural connections | Imagination at festivals
  • Festivals, mainstream and counterculture | Festivals and modern cultures
  • Methodologies for investigating festival cultures | Festivals East and West
  • Protestival rituals and performances | Rural and urban themes at festivals
  • Pulverised and micro festivals | Showcasing innovation and alternative futures
  • Green futures and consumerism at festivals | Religion, rituals and spirituality

This conference will provide online forums for discussing contributors’ blogs and vlogs, as well as feature a selection of live papers.

Keynote Speakers:

Dr Kinga Povedák

Dr Kinga Povedák

University of Szeged, Hungary

Kinga Povedák is a research fellow at MTA-SZTE (Hungarian Academy of Sciences – University of Szeged) ’Convivence’ Religious Pluralism Research Group. Her recent publications explore vernacular religiosity during socialist Hungary, Christianity and popular music, and charismatic Christianity. She is the author of the book Guitarist Apostles: The analysis of Christian popular music and co-editor of The Secret Police and the Religious Underground in Communist and Post-Communist Eastern Europe.

Dr Sharif Gemie

Dr Sharif Gemie

Independent Writer and Researcher

Sharif Gemie is a happily retired History professor. His academic work centred on marginal and minority peoples in contemporary Europe, such as Muslims, female teachers, Galicians, Bretons and refugees.

Prof Amanda Lucia

Prof Amanda Lucia

University of California-Riverside

Amanda Lucia is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California-Riverside. Her research engages the global exportation, appropriation, and circulation of Hinduism. She is author of White Utopias: The Religious Exoticism of Transformational Festivals (2020), Reflections of Amma: Devotees in a Global Embrace (2014), and numerous articles.

Banner image: Night tower - Andre Benz / unsplash; Inset image: Raggedstone /

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