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Thursday March 14 | Session 15:45 - 16:45 (20 min)
De Brakke Grond | Steegzaal


Joseph Grim Feinberg is research fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences. His book The Paradox of Authencity, on the politics and anti-politics of performance and anti-performance in the Slovak folklore scene, was just released with the University of Wisconsin Press. He has also explored theories of the public sphere and civil society, theories of political subjectivity and exclusion, and the notion of internationalism.
Performance theorists have long been drawn to the subversive potential of performance. Yet established institutions are also performative: they demand that participants take on roles and perform them more or less effectively; they also distinguish between relatively active people who have the authority to perform publicly important roles, and relatively passive audiences who observe those institutionalized performances. For this reason, I observe, tropes of performance find their way into criticisms of public institutions—of the alienation of bureaucracy and administration from the people who submit themselves to these institutions—just as readily as those tropes are taken up by activists seeking to undermine those institutions.

So we hear that bureaucrats are only playing the roles assigned to them, that politicians are only play-acting and do not really mean what they say, or that artists merely fill the roles assigned to them by consumer demands.


I argue for a balanced view of performance that accounts for the role of performance both in undermining and in upholding established institutions. And I call attention to the potentially subversive (but also contradictory) role of what I call anti-performance, the attempt to move beyond the performativity that is imposed by established institutions.

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