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Keynote speakers.

Philip Hayward (University of Technology, Sydney & Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia), author of Making a Splash! Mermaids (and Mermen) in 20th and 21st Century Audiovisual Media (forthcoming, JLP/University of Indiana Press).

Jenny Kokai (Weber State University, Ogden, USA), author of Swim Pretty: Aquatic Spectacles and the Performance of Race, Gender, and Nature (forthcoming, Southern Illinois University Press).

Onookome Okome (University of Alberta, Canada), research specialist in Nigerian cinema, who will be addressing Nigerian mermaid movies

How to make a presentation.

Papers and panels are invited on all aspects of mermaids and related entities in 19th-21st Century culture.


The deadline for abstracts was 31 March 2017. However, in cases of exceptionally interesting topics, we are willing to consider late abstracts. You can submit an abstract here.


Participants will be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers to a special issue of the journal Shima ( on theme of ‘Mermaids, Maritime Folklore & Modernity’ to be published in 2018.

Conference on Mermaids,

Maritime Folklore, and Modernity

24-27 October 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark

This interdisciplinary conference addresses mermaid and related creatures from folklore, myth, legend, and the imagination in 19th-21st Century culture.

The past decades have seen an explosion of mermaid imagery in global popular culture, across cinema, television, literature, music, design, performance, cosplay, and web-based forms. Mermen, selkies, sirens, and newer figures such as caecelia and merlions have also come to prominence. From Hans Christian Andersen’s story ‘The Little Mermaid’ to Jennifer Donnely’s WaterFire Saga, from Curtis Harrington’s Night Tide to Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid (美人鱼), from Edvard Eriksen’s iconic ‘The Little Mermaid’ statue to Banksy’s Dismaland distortion, from the Weeki Wachi Springs mermaid show to the digital mermaids at Macau’s City of Dreams, mermaids have served as figures of romance, horror, comedy, mystery, lust, and adventure across countless media and cultural practices.

Cultural globalisation has granted mermaid associations to numerous non-western creatures and deities. Representations of aquatic spirits from around the world (West Africa’s Mami Wata, Thailand’s Suvannamaccha, Indonesia’s Nyai Loro Kidul, Russia’s rusalka, Brazil’s Iara, etc.) increasingly influence and are influenced by western mermaid culture. This process historically occurred in the West itself, as figures from Mesopotamia and Classical antiquity influenced Medieval and Early Modern European perceptions and interpretations of encounters with aquatic beings.

About the conference.

On 24-25 October, delegates will visit mermaid-related sites and engage in Copenhagen’s local culture. On the evening of 25 October, delegates will visit the enchanting Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Conference presentations will take place at Kulturhuset Indre By on 26-27 October.