[dance-tech] Post-structuralist Threads3: Performative vs. Performatic---Queer---

  • From: "Jaime del Val" <jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 18:00:56 +0200

And hello again,

There is a distinction I wanted to make long ago regarding the use of the term 
PERFORMATIVE, which i think is often misused, since it has a very specific 
context: the theory of language of J.L.Austin, from which Judith Butler derived 
the performativity of Gender, the foundational body of QUEER theory.


Performative speech acts are those which perform what they say, like the 
sentence pronounced in court, or the words of the priest in a wedding, words 
without which the ritual doesn't happen. The words actually perform what they 
say, as opposed to descriptive speech acts: if I say "this is a Chair" one 
would assume that I am not producing the chair with the words.


However in a meta-constructionist leap Butler says that when a doctor says of 
the newborn: "it's a boy" or "it's a girl" it is in fact reproducing a category 
of gender that need of this invocation in language to be kept alive. Gender 
turns out to be the result of performative acts, a parody with no original, to 
put in Butler's words.


The use of the term queer in queer theory and movements is the best explanation 
for the theory and politics of performativity: queer is a strong injuriuos 
speech used against a third person to silence hir. However when movements in 
the streets and the academy started to use it in first person: "I am Queer", 
they were interrupting the chain of the performative reproduction of the 
subaltern category queer through a decontextualised citation, producing a 
subversive resignification of the term and a new kind of subject position that 
speaks where there was supposed to be only a silenced subalternity.


This is the specific context for PERFORMATIVITY, rather constringed to language 
and difficult to transpose to the spectrum of the nonverbal. 


I would be careful not to use the term for anything related to performance, for 
which I and other propose the use of the term PERFORMATIC.


I have therewith introduced queer and performativity theories as yet other well 
established branches of poststructuralist critique that extend our tranversal 
threads of the debate around new projects for new bodies in transdisciplinary 


future posts: postpornography---post-postmodernism---metaformativity----

all best


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  • » [dance-tech] Post-structuralist Threads3: Performative vs. Performatic---Queer---