restricted access IV. Critical Responses
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303  IV Critical Responses Micaela di Leonardo Dwight Conquergood and Performative Political Economy Dwight Conquergood has received and will continue to receive wild encomia for his extraordinary contributions—­ as writer, filmmaker, and teacher—­ to performance theory and practice. But it is the particularly political-­ economic nature of his work that I most appreciated, as his colleague and friend, and that I continue to treasure. Dwight’s work, I would say, offered us a vision of how to do and how to understand performative political economy. What do I mean by this phrase? First let’s consider the term political economy, the eighteenth-­ century term used to describe the whole-­ society but economically based analytic writings of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, James Mill, and others. Marx so used the label, and famously envisioned his work turning political economy on its head. He meant that in the sense that the classic political economists assumed a priori that capital preexisted labor—­ that societies sprung into being whole, with some owning land and/or other wealth, while others owned only their ability to work. Instead, Marx and other socialists assumed that over the course of human history, innately social humans cooperating with one another and acting on the environment in order to maintain and reproduce themselves had created various kinds of economies, with varying levels of private property and wealth, of power and powerlessness . Nowadays the term political economy refers, ironically, to a broad modern-­ day Marxist analysis that includes the consideration of shifting economies, politics, and states and other institutions. Many scholars add adjectives to indicate the development of interdisciplinary Marxist thought beyond the midcentury ahistorical economic reductionism with which many identify it—­ “historical political economy” or “culture and political economy” (di Leonardo 1991, 1998; Lancaster and di Leonardo 1997). The late anthropologist William Roseberry articulated the “cul- ...


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