Call for Submissions: Double-Themed Issue of the Journal of Festive Studies (“Festival Economy” and “Film Festivals”)


The Journal of Festive Studies, a peer-reviewed journal published on H-Net, invites submissions for its fourth issue, scheduled for publication in June 2022. This issue will include two guest-edited thematic sections, one on “Festival Economy,” the other on “Film Festivals.”


Scholars interested in submitting should upload their article (6,000-12,000 words) with an abstract (c. 250 words) and a brief bio statement (150 words max.) to the Journal of Festive Studies website by June 30, 2021. Please consult the author guidelines and our About page for more information on the journal before submission. If you have any further questions, please contact Cora Gaebel ( for the Festival Economy section and Emilie Cheyroux ( ) for the Film Festivals section.


In line with the interdisciplinary nature of the Journal of Festive Studies, we welcome submissions of original research and analysis rooted in a variety of fields. In addition to traditional academic essays, we invite contributions that incorporate digital media such as visualizations, interactive timelines and maps, video and imagery, as well as interviews and book reviews.



1. Thematic section on “Festival Economy,” guest-edited by Cora Gaebel (Cologne University, Germany)


Unlike rituals, festivals (be they religious or non-religious, celebrations or commemorations, carnivals, processions, parades, or fairs) are lively, excessive, and tend to break norms and rules. As Abrahams suggested in 1982, “[t]he vocabulary of festival is the language of extreme experiences through contrast—contrasts between everyday life and these high times, and, within the events themselves, between the different parts of the occasion.”


Festivals such as Pride parades, Hindu chariot festivals, and carnivals draw thousands, sometimes millions, of visitors annually. Festivals celebrated in antiquity, from the Dionysia in ancient Greece to the Festival of the Valley in Egypt, drew similarly large crowds. In most cases, money or similar values are invested in these festivals by participants or sponsors. Occasionally, these investments exceed the means of the investors, be they individuals or entities such as temples and states. Potlatches–prominently described for the Kwakwaka’wakw by Franz Boas in the late nineteenth century, and for the Trobriand islanders by Marcel Mauss–, the cofradias and cargo systems of Mesoamerica, as well as weddings in contemporary Central Asia come to mind. Festivals also generate revenue, although in ways that are usually hard to quantify. In other words, festivals have a distinctive economy.


This special issue will center on the workings and significance of this festival economy. This is a field that has not always been examined under this name, although many works that fall under the label of ritual economy could be described as studies on festival economy and studies on the material culture of a festival occasionally contain economic analyses.


When approaching festivals from an economic perspective, one does not (primarily) look at the (ritual) proceedings but rather at their involvement in the overall cycle of production and consumption, or their engagement with local available resources, which might be different for each festival. For instance, my analysis of two interconnected Hindu festivals in East India has involved looking at their economic impact on the local and regional economies, investments in infrastructure by the local, state, and central government, and the production of divine images.


Consequently, this issue welcomes papers centering on the following (sometimes overlapping) topics:


  • The financing of festivities by communities, or the involvement of individuals and families in the festive life of the community
  • The circulation of goods at festivals (via gift-giving, market transactions, black marketeering, theft, etc.)
  • Forms of festival labor (from forced labor to volunteering, interning, part-time or full-time employment)
  • Government expenditures for festivals (transportation, security, sanitation, decoration, general infrastructure, etc.)
  • The way festivals commodify goods and values that are not considered as being marketable, such as religion/deities, culture, and nature
  • Tourism and festivals
  • Marketing campaigns for festivals
  • The sponsoring of festivals/parts of festivals by businesses and corporations (leading to accusations of “pinkwashing” during Pride parades or “greenwashing” on Earth Day, for instance)
  • The impact of festivals on local, regional, and national economies
  • The research methods used in festival economic impact studies




Abrahams, Roger D. “The Language of Festivals: Celebrating the Economy.” In Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual, edited by Victor Turner, 161–177. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.

Bataille, George. The Accursed Share. Orig. pub. 1949. New York: Zone Books, 1988.

Boas, Franz. The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians. Based on Personal Observations and on Notes made by Mr. George Hunt. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897.

Cancian, Frank. Economics and Prestige in a Maya community: The Religious Cargo System in Zinacantan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1965.

Cummings, Joan. “The Greening of the Music Festival Scene: An Exploration of Sustainable Practices and Their Influence on Youth Culture.” In The Festivalization of Culture, edited by Andy Bennett, Jodie Taylor, and Ian Woodward, 169-86. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014.

Curcio-Nagy, Linda A. The Great Festivals of Colonial Mexico City: Performing Power and Identity. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

Dorson, Richard M. “Material Components in Celebration.” In Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual, edited by Victor Turner, 33-57. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.

Durrenberger, E. Paul. “The Political Ecology of Ritual Feasting.” In Dimensions of Ritual Economy, edited by E. Christian Wells and Patricia A. McAnany, 73-89. Bingley: Emerald, 2008.

Ferdinand, Nicole and Nigel L. Williams. “International Festivals as Experience Production Systems.” Tourism Management 34 (2013): 202-210.

Gaebel, Cora. “The Value of Ritual Feasting: Religious and Economic Considerations during the Renewal of the Deities and the Chariot Festival (Puri, Odisha).” In Approaching Ritual Economy: Socio-Cosmic Fields in Globalised Contexts, edited by Roland Hardenberg, 255-79. Tübingen: SFB 1070 Publications, 2017.

Gaebel, Cora (in preparation). Trading (with) the Divine in the Festivalscape? The Festival Economy of two Hindu Festivals.

Gold, John R., and Margaret M. Gold. Festival Cities: Culture, Planning and Urban Life. Taylor & Francis, 2020.

Jonaitis, Aldona (Ed.). Chiefly Feasts: The Enduring Kwakiutl Potlatch. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.

Mauss, Marcel. The Gift. Orig. pub. 1950. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2016. Translated by Jane I. Guyer.

Osowski, Edward W. “Triumphal Arches and Centurions in the Indigenous-Spanish Festival Economy.” In Indgenous Miracles. Nahua Authority in Colonial Mexico, 161-190. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010.

Stringer, Julian. “Global Cities and the International Film Economy.” In Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context, edited by Mark Shiel and Tony Fitzmaurice, 134-144. Blackwell Publishers, 2001.



2. Thematic section on “Film Festivals,” guest-edited by Émilie Cheyroux (Toulouse University, France)


Since 1932, when the first Mostra Cinematografica was launched in Venice, the number of film festivals has expanded to the point that it is estimated that there are about 4,000 around the world today. The field of film festival studies has evolved too in the last twenty-five years, encouraging academics to reflect on the cultural, social, political and economic issues at stake in their organization. Notwithstanding Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong's argument that asking for a strict definition of a film festival is a “trick question,” scholars have not shied away from exploring the “multifaceted” quality of these events. This special issue of The Journal of Festive Studies seeks to pursue this endeavor in order to further the research on the diverse quality of film festivals.


From a historical perspective, the field owes much to Marijke de Valck's identification of three phases. She explains that the first phase met nationalist goals (1932-1968) and used cinema for propaganda purposes, in the manner of the Mostra Cinematografica that was created when Mussolini ruled over Italy. The artistic phase that followed (1970-1980) promoted the making of recognizable "auteur" films, such as the New Wave films directed by Truffaut and Godard. The last and ongoing phase (1980s onwards), based on the development of complex networks, has allowed the expansion of a globalized and embedded circuit. A long way from when the market was dominated by the “big three” (Cannes, Berlin, and Venice), the network now comprises a very rich amount of festivals that can showcase a great variety of films, including political, documentary, experimental, underground, independent, and avant-garde filmmaking. The last phase has thus made way for more freedom in terms of format, genre, geographical location, and language, with films that usually challenge the Hollywood canon. In addition, a few festivals have been so ground-breaking that they have influenced and shaped the whole field. Charles-Clemens Rüling has identified the Annecy animation film festival as one such “field-configuring event.” It appears, then, that film festivals not only show films, they also contribute to the development of the film industry.


Behind each of these events lies a purpose that goes further than cinema, and academics have reminded us that film festivals indeed go far beyond cinephilia. Festivals are inherently interactive experiences that seek to have an impact on the audience and generate discussion. Wong has used the concept of "social sphere" to explore the impact of the publicity given to a film during a festival. She reminds us of how Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's film Grigris, which was showcased in Cannes in 2013, encouraged journalists from his homeland (Tchad) to open the conversation on oil trafficking, thus showing that film festivals can serve as agents of cultural diplomacy at an international level. At the national and local levels, they can also be sites of social advocacy for the recognition of a community (ethnic, gender-identified, national, with specific needs). Few studies have shed light on the way a festival’s mission is articulated by its organizers and on how volunteers are recruited to make sure that it is fulfilled. Even fewer have explored the filmmaking workshops that teach young teenagers how to tell their stories with a camera and on the partnership between festivals and local schools (Cine Las Americas, for instance, encourages young students from East Austin to tell stories about their multicultural neighborhood), even though they heavily contribute to the educational mission of certain festivals. Clearly, festivals not only seek to educate their audience about marginalized communities in an effort to deconstruct the stereotypes that affect them, but are also a vital part of a city because of the networks they create locally.


The economic impact of film festivals has been one of the primary angles of scholarly research since the 1990s. Because film festivals are events that promote films, whether they have an official market or not, they are also business events that generate revenue to filmmakers, distributors and producers, as well as to the cities that host them. The Cannes Film Festivals might be one of the best examples of a festival that attracts tourists yet, there are other smaller festivals that bet on the economic revival of the neighborhoods in which they are organized. Such is the case with the Tribeca Film Festival, organized by Robert De Niro to attract people to the lower Manhattan neighborhood that had been especially impacted by the 9/11 attacks.


The context in which the fourth issue of The Journal of Festive Studies will be published also urges us to consider the consequences of the 2020 pandemic on the organization of film festivals around the world: How have organizers coped with the impossibility to organize their festival under usual conditions? How have they selected films? Do they still consider that they organized film “festivals”? It should not be forgotten that film festivals are first and foremost fests, i.e. festive events meant to celebrate cinema and its capacity to build bridges. No matter their priorities – making a profit, offering a niche for marginalized productions, or serving activist purposes – it can hardly be denied that the pandemic has had unprecedented consequences on the global film festival circuit.


Consequently, this issue welcomes papers centering on the following (sometimes overlapping) topics:


  • the history and development of a particular film festival or group of festivals
  • the conception and evolution of a festival's mission (be it curative, celebratory, or militant);
  • the strategies used by the organizers to select films, and their relations with the whole network of festivals and with the local archives
  • the way film festivals can cater to specific minorities or communities
  • the way film festivals are organized, with a particular focus on volunteers
  • the experience of attending a film festival, with a focus on reception
  • the relation between a festival and its local environment (neighborhood, city or state), whether from an economic or social perspective
  • the economic issues raised by the organization of film festivals
  • the strategies used by festival organizers to sustain the event, from an economic or networking point of view
  • the new kinds of festivals offered today, including online festivals and festivals organized during the 2020 pandemic.


Works cited


De Valck, Marijke, Brendan Kredell, and Skadi Loist, eds. Film Festivals: History, Theory, Method, Practice. New York: Routledge, 2016.

De Valck, Marijke. Film Festivals: From European Geopolitics to Global Cinephilia. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2007.

Ethis, Emmanuel. “Cannes, un festival des signes de l’identité spectatorielle.” Protée 31: 2 (2003): 37–46.

Giorgi, Liana, Monica Sassatelli, and Gerard Delanty, eds. Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Iordanova, Dina, and Ragan Rhyne, eds. Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival Circuit. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies, 2009.

Iordanova, Dina, and Ragan Rhyne, eds. Film Festival Yearbook 2: Imagined Communities. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies, 2009.

Iordanova, Dina, and Leshu Torchin, eds. Film Festival Yearbook 4: Film Festivals and Activism. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies, 2012.

Papadimitriou, Lydia, and Jeffrey Ruoff. “Film festivals: origins and trajectories.” New Review of Film and Television Studies 14: 1 (2016): 1-4. doi:10.1080/17400309.2015.1106686.

Rueda, Amanda. “Festival de cinéma: Médiations et construction de territoires imaginaires.” Culture et Musées 14: 1(2009): 149-171.

Rüling, Charles-Clemens. “Festivals as Field-configuring Events: The Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market.” In Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival Circuit, edited by Iordanova and Rhyne, 49-66. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies, 2012.

Sharpe, Erin K. “Festivals and Social Change: Intersections of Pleasure and Politics at a Community Music Festival.” Leisure Sciences 30: 3 (2008): 217–234.

Sölter, Arpad-Andreas. “Festival Circus, Golden Gnomes and Cultural Diplomacy. The Audi Festival of German Films in the Context of Multicultural Festivals in Australia.” Studies in Australasian Cinema 9, 2 (2015): 190–204.

Wilson, J., Arshed, N., Shaw, E., and Pret, T. “Expanding the Domain of Festival Research: A Review and Research Agenda.” International Journal of Management Reviews 19 (2015): 195-213.

Wong, Cindy H. Film Festivals: Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 2011.