Performance Studies: Interventions and Radical Research
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

32 Performance Studies Interventions and Radical Research According to Michel de Certeau, “what the map cuts up, the story cuts across” (de Certeau 1984, 129). This pithy phrase evokes a postcolonial world crisscrossed by transnational narratives, diaspora affiliations, and, especially, the movement and multiple migrations of people, sometimes voluntary, but often economically propelled and politically coerced. In order to keep pace with such a world, we now think of “place” as a heavily trafficked intersection, a port of call and exchange, instead of a circumscribed territory. A boundary is more like a membrane than a wall. In current cultural theory, “location” is imagined as an itinerary instead of a fixed point. Our understanding of “local context” expands to encompass the historical, dynamic, often traumatic, movements of people, ideas, images, commodities, and capital. It is no longer easy to sort out the local from the global: transnational circulations of images get reworked on the ground and redeployed for local, tactical struggles. And global flows simultaneously are encumbered and energized by these local makeovers. We now are keenly aware that the “local” is a leaky, contingent construction, and that global forces are taken up, struggled over, and refracted for site-­ specific purposes. The best of the new cultural theory distinguishes itself from apolitical celebrations of mobility, flow, and easy border crossings by carefully tracking the transitive circuits of power and the political economic pressure points that monitor the migrations of people, channel the circulations of meanings, and stratify access to resources (see Gilroy 1994; Appadurai 1996; Lavie and Swedenburg 1996; Clifford 1997; di Leonardo 1998; Joseph 1999; Ong 1999). We now ask: For whom is the border a friction-­ free zone of entitled access, a frontier of possibility? Who travels confidently across borders, and who gets questioned, detained, interrogated, and strip-­ searched at the border (see Taylor 1999)? But de Certeau’s aphorism, “what the map cuts up, the story cuts performance studies  33  across,” also points to transgressive travel between two different domains of knowledge: one official, objective, and abstract—­ “the map”; the other one practical, embodied, and popular—­ “the story.” This promiscuous traffic between different ways of knowing carries the most radical promise of performance studies research. Performance studies struggles to open the space between analysis and action, and to pull the pin on the binary opposition between theory and practice. This embrace of different ways of knowing is radical because it cuts to the root of how knowledge is organized in the academy. The dominant way of knowing in the academy is that of empirical observation and critical analysis from a distanced perspective: “knowing that,” and “knowing about.” This is a view from above the object of inquiry : knowledge that is anchored in paradigm and secured in print. This propositional knowledge is shadowed by another way of knowing that is grounded in active, intimate, hands-­ on participation and personal connection : “knowing how,” and “knowing who.” This is a view from ground level, in the thick of things. This is knowledge that is anchored in practice and circulated within a performance community, but is ephemeral. Donna Haraway locates this homely and vulnerable “view from a body” in contrast to the abstract and authoritative “view from above,” universal knowledge that pretends to transcend location (Haraway 1991, 196). Since the enlightenment project of modernity, the first way of knowing has been preeminent. Marching under the banner of science and reason, it has disqualified and repressed other ways of knowing that are rooted in embodied experience, orality, and local contingencies. Between objective knowledge that is consolidated in texts, and local know-­ how that circulates on the ground within a community of memory and practice , there is no contest. It is the choice between science and “old wives’ tales” (note how the disqualified knowledge is gendered as feminine). Michel Foucault coined the term “subjugated knowledges” to include all the local, regional, vernacular, naïve knowledges at the bottom of the hierarchy—­ the low Other of science (Foucault 1980, 81–­ 84). These are the nonserious ways of knowing that dominant culture neglects, excludes , represses, or simply fails to recognize. Subjugated knowledges have been erased because they are illegible; they exist, by and large, as active bodies of meaning, outside of books, eluding the forces of inscription that would make them legible, and thereby legitimate (see de Certeau 1998; Scott 1998). What gets squeezed out by this epistemic violence is the whole realm of complex, finely nuanced meaning that is embodied, tacit, intoned, gestured, improvised, coexperienced...