Border Talk, Hybridity, and Performativity

In 2002 an article of Susan Stanford Friedman with this concise – keyword providing – title was first published in eurozine, as a contribution of its partner zine Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais. Regarding my recent attempts to define some lines of thoughts (acknowlegding various approaches within different fields and … the lurking simplification of such an trial) it brings up some of the main keywords in its specific and concrete definitions. Thus the following quotes stand for itself to highlight some of the aspects of already mentioned issues like hybridity, performativity, identity, fluidity, … inbetweeness.

Instead, I want to turn the spotlight onto the limbo twilight of “inbetweeness” – beyond mosaics and melting pots – by setting in creative conjunction three current rhetorics of identity pervasively a feature of cultural studies across the disciplines. They are what I loosely call “border talk,” “hybridity talk,” and “performativity talk.” The spread of all three reflects the accelerating processes of globalization and the intensification of migratory identities in what Arjun Appadurai has called the “global ethnoscape” of postmodernity.

The act of speech itself is a performance with effects, that brings something into existence. The theatrical model, represented well by Peggy Phelan and Richard Schechner, colleagues at New York University’s Department of Performance Studies, regards performance in the light of spectacle, as in a staged event like a ritual, a play, a film, a dance or a sports event, with performers who are more or less distinct from an audience. This approach regards performance as a symbolic form of cultural/artistic expressivity in which a gap opens up between the performer and what or who is being represented. As a representation, performance is a re-presentation. “Performances,” Schechner writes, “are make-believe, in play, for fun. Or, as Victor Turner said, in the subjunctive mood, the famous ‘as if.'” (Schechner, Performance Theory xiv). Or, Phelan , in a more Derridean vein in Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (1993), speaks of performance in terms of presence/absence. “Performance,” she writes, “implicates the real through the presence of living bodies,” but these living bodies are forever cut off from what they represent; “the performative is important to Derrida precisely because it displays language’s independence from the referent outside of itself” (pp.148-49). Moreover, the performance exists only in present time; it cannot be repeated or copied, since every performance is in itself a unique event. Performance, for Phelan , is “representation without reproduction” (pp.146-66).
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(… and current delays in publishing due to outages of new – wireless – tech inventions I have been dependent on during the last 2 month….producing sometimes a gap ….)

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