ILA: The Embodiment of Leadership – Call for Submissions to BLB 2013

The Embodiment of Leadership
A Volume in the ILA Building Leadership Bridges (BLB) Series

Call for Submissions (Deadline June 1, 2012)

Complete details below or at

Lois Melina, Editor.  Melina is Chair, Ethical and Creative Leadership Concentration, PhD Program in Interdisciplinary Studies, Union Institute & University.

The International Leadership Association invites you to submit your work on the theme, The Embodiment of Leadership for our annual volume in the Building Leadership Bridges series. The book captures the best contemporary thinking about leadership from a diverse range of scholars, practitioners, and educators working in the field of leadership studies. In keeping with the mission of the ILA, the book series connects ways of researching, imagining, and experiencing leadership across cultures, over time, and around the world. The book will be published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley with an expected publication date of March 2013.


Linguistics scholar James Paul Gee identified four ways of viewing identity, i.e., what it means to be a particular kind of person. Among them are an identity that is inborn (i.e., natural) and an identity that is conferred by a particular position of authority within institutions, both of which can be related to theories of leadership. A third way of viewing identity is as a discursive identity, one that is constituted through speech, action, attitude, use of materials, gestures, feelings, race, gender, size, age, physical appearance—in short, an identity that acknowledges and is created by the body. This form of identity, Gee said, does not have power on its own, but must be recognized. This is similar to feminist philosopher Judith Butler’s notion that gender is an identity that is constituted through performative repeated acts.

This volume seeks to explore the notion that leadership is both a discursive practice and a performative identity that is situated in a body that not only thinks, but moves, acts, has emotions and desires, ages, experiences, hurts, and senses. This idea moves leadership beyond the intellectual functions such as visioning, strategizing, and persuading, and the actions that emanate from the intellectual realm, and situates leadership firmly in a corporality that is raced, gendered, cultured, sexual, instinctual, and emotional. It suggests that leadership itself is an embodied text that can be “read” to discover personal and cultural meaning. Indeed, anthropologist Victor Turner suggested that it is through performance situated in the body that we not only reveal meaning, but reveal ourselves to ourselves and others.

Contemporary calls for leaders who are authentic due to heightened self-awareness cannot be answered unless that includes the ways in which leadership involves both mind and body awareness. Contemporary calls for more inclusive leadership cannot be answered without an awareness of the ways in which our understanding of leadership has been constituted by a dominant performative discourse that is white and male (even when not enacted by white males), heterosexual, and fully able.

This is a call for essays and creative works that explore the embodiment of leadership. Each submission is expected to be supported by a theoretical, philosophical, and/or disciplinary grounding. We seek traditional scholarly essays, personal narrative, ethnographies, plays, poetry, visual art, and photo essays, as well as reports of research and discussions of how educators and practitioners have used these concepts in their classrooms, in their personal development, and in leadership workshops.

Questions for Stimulation

The editor of this volume offers a set of guiding questions to stimulate your thinking about The Embodiment of Leadership: How can an understanding of the ways the body is involved in constituting leadership contribute to an understanding of leadership that includes bodies in ways that genuinely shatter glass ceilings? How can leaders recognize the ways their bodies are impacting their leadership—and leadership is impacting their bodies? How can leadership development benefit from an understanding of the role of the body in leadership? What roles have literature, film, myth, fairy tale, archetype, and art played in the constitution of an embodied discourse of leadership? Can a lack of attention to the body in leadership account for dramatic accounts of self-sabotage by leaders in ways that involve the body?

Areas for Submission

The editor welcomes previously unpublished submissions that explore the theme The Embodiment of Leadership from diverse perspectives, disciplines, cultures and sectors. Submissions should strengthen ties between those who practice and who study leadership, and that foster effective leadership. Submissions will be considered in five areas that help us understand leadership and leading at the intersections of research or theory, application, experience, and art.

  • Analyses of leaders and/or leadership: Researchers should present inquiries, findings, and discussions that analyze the relationship of the body to leaders and/or leadership using a variety of methods, including (but not limited to) narrative inquiry, case study, discourse analysis, and performance ethnography. This can include not only contemporary and historical figures, but literary and mythological figures. What cultural narratives, myths, or archetypes are revealed when we examine the way leadership identity has been constituted through performativity? How can the field of performance ethnography contribute to the study and practice of leadership? How do the media contribute to the constitution of leadership through the choices they make in representing the bodies of leaders, both visually and in print? How can an understanding of the body as a site of knowledge contribute to the study of leadership?
  • Ways of developing leaders and teaching about leadership: Those who develop leaders in classrooms, through mentoring, in workshops, or through a consulting practice are encouraged to share how they involve the body as a site of knowledge in leadership development workshops and leadership education. How can an awareness of the embodiment of leadership be addressed in online courses, webinars, and other media-based or distance education modalities?
  • Leadership theory: To what extent are theories of leadership influenced by a performative discourse constituted by the dominant white male culture? In what ways does consideration of leadership as an embodied, performative discourse invite reconsideration of existing theories? Further, discussions of the embodiment of leadership invite explorations of the ways leadership theory intersects with critical race theory, gender theories, queer theory, and other theories in which the body is clearly at the center of inquiry.
  • Artistic works: Literature, photography, fine art, music, dance, film and other artistic forms can be explored as sources of information or units of analysis about the embodiment of leadership. In addition, artists in these and other genres are encouraged to submit original works that relate to the theme of embodied leadership or the performative discourse of leadership.
  • Boundary crossing: This topic invites consideration from a variety of disciplines, including theatre, anthropology, the arts, psychology, narrative, and others. Contributors are invited to take a multi-perspective and/or interdisciplinary approach, which may include representing research in artistic form or arts-based leadership development workshops.

Submission Guidelines

Submitted works must be previously unpublished and must adhere to the following specifications:

  • Submissions should be no longer than 5000 words, the word count not to include references, tables, or charts.
  • Submitted works will be blind-reviewed, thus all identifying information should be on a separate cover sheet.
  • Information on the cover sheet must include all of the following: suggested area of submission, title of submission, a maximum 100-word abstract, and names, affiliations, and contact information (including best phone, best email, and mailing address) for all contributors.
  • APA style should be followed.
  • Notes should be kept to a minimum but when used should come in the form of endnotes.
  • Margins are to be 1” on all four sides, left-aligned, NOT justified, and all pages numbered in the top right-hand corner with the narrative starting on page 1.
  • Submissions should be in Times New Roman, font size 12, double spaced, and indented paragraphs for all submissions EXCEPT artistic works.

PLEASE NOTE: All submissions must meet these guidelines except artistic works. If guidelines are not met, submission may be excluded from consideration.

Send submissions electronically as a WORD DOCUMENT to ILA Director of Publications, Debra DeRuyver at by June 1, 2012.

We plan to make final decisions and send out notifications the week of August 1, 2012.


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