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Performative social science


Performative social science

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I have started this group as I noticed there are a few people on this website who might have an interest in the topic. Please use this as a platform for sharing ideas as well as for juicy debates!

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What is the Performative of discussion Groups. 2 Replies

Started by Kim Murphy-Stewart. Last reply by Richard L Peacocke Mar 31, 2009.

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Comment by Saliha Bava on February 3, 2010 at 15:24
Call For Proposals
PERFORMING THE WORLD 2010: Can Performance Change the World?

The sixth Performing the World conference will be held in New York City from Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, 2010. The theme of this year’s conference is: “Can Performance Change the World?”

With this theme, we ask performance activists and scholars to reflect on and address the political aspects of their performance work; at the same time, we invite social change activists to reflect on and address the performance aspects of their political activities. We are looking for proposals —for panels, workshops, performances, demonstrations, installations, etc. — that address this overarching question.

The sponsors of Performing the World — the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy and the All Stars Project, Inc. — are based in New York City.

The question “Can Performance Change the World?” suggests many themes and topics. Here are a few:
• Does performance contribute to people seeing the world in new ways?
• Play, performance and learning in and outside of school
• Community, therapy and community therapy
• Playing at work and working at play
• New health care performances for connecting mind and body
• Therapy, performance and emotional growth
• How is the economy performing?
• What does performing on stage have to do with performing off-stage?
• Group creativity and social change
• Performance, activism and revolution
Proposal submission forms are available at Proposals are due March 1, 2010.
Conference Fees (fees are for the entire conference; there is no day rate)
Before July 1, 2010: US$215
After July 1, 2010: US$245
A key part of the Performing the World experience is the person-to-person connection — building new relationships with people from around the globe. If you need a place to stay during the conference, our International Host Committee will make every effort to find you one in the home of a New Yorker. Housing request forms are available on the website.
Additional information about the conference, and forms for registration, housing and financial aid can be found at
For any questions please contact conference producer Madelyn Chapman at or 212-941-9400, ext 385.
Comment by Jamie Bird on April 2, 2009 at 19:58
Yes - the comments about care of participants is vital and care of an audience - but as already mentioned when any act or image moves from one context to another (especialy from a more private to more public space) the ethical boundary shifts and unpredicatability rises. It is this element which as a hyper-cautious art therapist makes me ask these questions. At this point I am thinking about participants being the producers (or co-producers) of images and maybe performances (the participatory action research bit). Quite right about support for participants / audience. I do know that the arts are unpredictable and that is what gives them their power - they refuse to stay in any box that might be constructed around them! As a point of interest the following link will take you to some useful papers with numbers 10 and 11 addressing some of the issues discussed:
Comment by Oma on April 2, 2009 at 16:56
Two points on your issue about domestic violence. First, I have seen a research-based readers theatre production on domestic violence. The entire auditorium had artifacts all around it that were mentioned in the participants's stories as a way to set the stage. The actors read actual data strips from the participants transcripts. It was pretty powerful. Second, in response to Jenny, I am working on a research-based theatre production on Alzheimer's carers. I let the participants know up front that my intention was to move the data into a dramatic script. It was also writen into the concent form. I do think it is important that they know upfront what you intend to do with the data.
Comment by Jenny Hall on April 2, 2009 at 16:36
Dear Jamie
I understand your concerns with regard a 'sensitive' subject such as Domestic Violence. There are some ethical concerns regarding 'performing' any material that you have been entrusted with I feel. For one you have responsibility to the participants who have given you the information: do they know it could be 'performed' rather than written in a text? Could it be that they could be in the 'audience' and what impact would 'seeing/hearing' the information being performed have on them? In addition there is the responsibility to the 'audience'. if you are presenting painful information/stories what is the impact on those who are watching. How can any of us know who in that audience could be hurt by the information being presented? Should the audience be warned that the material could be painful, could raise difficult memories? Should 'support' be available to those people who are affected by the perfomance? Sorry, more questions than answers, but it is something I constantly think about as I have been 'touched' by seeing others performances that were designed to be 'shocking' or just designed to be 'presentation of data'. This is where I feel that we have a great responsibility when using artistic methods in research to recognsie the potential 'therapeutic' but also 'damaging' effects there could be without careful handling. Hope this helps Jenny
Comment by Jamie Bird on April 2, 2009 at 15:13
thanks - I have read some of the Special Issue and have done some work with Maggie O'neill using PSS (including co-presenting at the Krakow conference in December 2008). I've seen "I remember the night" which is fantastic and a great example of how evocative a mix of visual, auditory and spoken images can be. I guess my question is particular to this way of working and exploring experiences and representations of domestic violence - potential difficulties etc. Art Therapy has one way of conecpetualising visual images (part of a 'therapeutic' relationship - performance?) which is similar and different perhaps to say social science research or social action (different relationships and different performances?) Perhaps here I am thinking both about a performative act (making and diseminating images) and a performance (therapist / researcher / activist) at the same time!
Comment by Kip Jones on April 2, 2009 at 13:11
Dear Jamie,
I can speak more directly about my own work. I am interested in developing ways of disseminating qualitative data through the use of arts-based tools and methods.

Example: I get a great interview with interesting dialogue or story. I then use tools from theatre, film etc to write a 'script' and produce and output (film, video, A/V, sound). Yes, the ethics questions are addressed. The purpose of these outputs is to reach wider audiences with my research than simply publishing text in academic journals.

There are other researchers who are experimenting with tools from the arts within the research process as well. Again, I recommend the Special Issue for examples of this.

Comment by Jamie Bird on April 2, 2009 at 13:03
I ahve started a discussion on Methodspace wondering about the place of sense based methodologies and PAR when researching domestic violence and I wonder also about the place of performative methods also - any experience or thoughts?

Also, as an art therapist and developing researcher I wonder about the similarities and differences between those two identies in terms of them being performative - with the things made within them reflecting those differences.

I agree about needing clarity.
Comment by Kip Jones on April 2, 2009 at 10:32
I am not sure of the connection that you make, Kim.

There is a difference between 'performance' and performative' so perhaps thinking on that for a bit would help.

Until you investigate what has already been done calling itself 'performative', this exercise in making it up for yourself seems not to be so productive and the issue is just getting muddled and confused.

Again, I suggest that you read some of the articles in the Special Issue on PSS.
The issue contains over 100 photographs and almost 50 illustrations,
as well as 36 videos and two audio-recordings.
Diverse textual forms of representation include over 50 poems,
three scripted conversations and a play.

With 42 articles written by contributors from 13 countries,
the Special Issue establishes a foundational reference
for the performative turn in social science.

The articles cover a wide variety of disciplines and backgrounds.

After you have perused the issue, hen perhaps you (and others) will be better prepared to find if and how it connects to what you may be doing or thinking about.

Comment by Kim Murphy-Stewart on April 2, 2009 at 10:09
Greetings John

Some of your comment would seem to me as to imply the notions of insider and outsider research. ie when you said "make a real difference in the communities that we 'study'."

Cause what happens when you are married into that community, teach in it and live in it AS WELL AS having permission to research it - not it perse BUT how one might go about building a practice which effectively addresses colonial legacies.

I don't use "a real difference" even tho the addition of the word real helps cause usually it is make "a difference". Change the loo paper makes a difference but dosen't make the community different.

I tell my students that we are here to make it different or to make that different.


Comment by Kim Murphy-Stewart on April 2, 2009 at 10:01
Can anyone tell me or suggest if there is a connection between PSS and critical pragmatism.

Could not PSS be a method of researching practice by performing it or in creating performances of it in a manner which may inform theory. BUT in this event practice (performance) precedes theory.

Just thought I'd ask as I am reading stuff by Werner Ulrich.

In this event his writing seems to make perfect sense in terms of how one might articulate bi-culturalism in practice as a theory from a non-Maori or non-indigenous perspective.

Or am barking up a gum tree?



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