domingo, 21 de junho de 2009

performance studies

"There is no object (or set of objects) called performance(s) the study of which performance studies takes as its purpose. Rather, there is an idea, performance, that serves as the paradigmatic standing point for any inquiry that occurs within the disciplinary realm. In principle, this paradigm can function as a lens through which to examine almost anything."

Philip Auslander
"Theory For Performance Studies: a Students Guide", London, Routledge, 2007, Introduction, pp. 2-3.

Probably with the dismiss of positivism the idea of a fixed object for each discipline had also the tendency to disappear: actually, each particular discipline (as archaeology, for instance) is a very open field, with no fixed borders, but having a certain tradition in the way it looks at the world and at the so called material things in particular. Our aim is ultimately to understand the human being, and that is why archaelogy (and many other traditional academic disciplines) is so interested in performance studies: because they amplify the scope of our viewing, which is critical to get rid of interpretations that are often inspired in a rigid or static reality. For us, archaeologists, it is very important to look for temporality and process in that reality. But that is not enough, because knowledge is not only improved through induction. We also need to discuss the theory of the human, of the human in action, the theory of performance and performancescapes.

That said, a question persists: is performance an adequate theoretical standpoint to look at human beings? Giving emphasis to movement and fluidity, as it is implicit in this approach, don't we take the risk of universalizing a very modern (or post-modern) vision of the human? Aren't we again projecting in the past a kind of mobility that is so typical of (and specific to) our age of globalization and fast moving, vanishing values and peoples?

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