Performativity

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THE ROLE EVERYDAY PERFORMATIVITY PLAY IN INTERPELLATING US AS RACED, GENDERED, CLASSED, ETHICIZED AND NATIONAL SUBJECTS AND IS THERE ANY WAY THAT WE CAN SUBVERT THE ROLES ASSIGNED BY US BY SOCIETY.

Performativity is one of the difficult terms to define because of its interdisciplinary nature in which it is used. Even though such is the case, it is often used to name the capacity of speech, as a production of the speaking body, as well as other non-verbal forms of expressive action, to perform a type of constructed identity (Felman 1980:68). In this paper everyday performativity will be used in differentiating it from mere performance and establish what role it play in interpellating us as raced, gendered, classed, ethicized and national subjects.

To understand Performativity, there is a need to distinguish it with performance which is the term it is mostly confused with because of the thin line difference they have and the repetitive attribute they share in common. On one hand, performances mark identity, bend and remake time and provide people with behavior that is twice-behaved, not for the first time, rehearsed, cooked and prepared (Schechner 1985:564). On the other hand performativity being a term first used by a philosopher named J.L. Austin in 1955 was meant to describe using words to actually accomplish actions. Today a wide range of actions, behaviors and events are thought of as performative. These range from performative writing to various kinds of role playing in everyday to personal identity itself, especially gendered identity (Schechner 1985:565).

To simplify performance and performmativity differences is to explain them by example. For example, football is a performance and no one can confuse it with tennis because the characteristics of each performance genre are conventional and have different rules they follow. On the other hand the terms that deal with the performative performance in everyday life and identity constructions are as rule bound as sports, but often less consciously so like gender of an individual which changes from time to time. With Performative terms like gender, race, ethinicity, class and national subject, it used to be that a person is who she is assigned a role by birth, tradition, education or training but for quite some time and especially in so called postmodern societies, people have been able to shift roles both in the long term by means of sexual orientation choices, various kinds of surgery, cosmetic and more and in the short-term by means of dress, makeup, jewelry; selection of friends, social miliens (Schechner 1985:567) and in this case we can say that the growing acceptance of the performative as a category of theory as well as a fact of behavior has made it more and more difficult, and inadvisable to assign truth to the realm of life and worse to the realm of theatre. Firstly in exploring on the role everyday performativity play in interpellating us as raced, it must be noted that race has its sub activities or set of behaviors that follows it for one to be of a particular race. Race is understood to be beyond the visual and into the performative. Race refers to ones genetic make-up and somatic properties. According to Gates, it is important to remember that race is only a sociopolitical category nothing more (1992:37-38). In addition to that to talk in terms of racializing norms is indeed to suggest that race, like gender, sex and sexuality is constructed rather than natural, assumed in response to the interpellative call of discourse and the law (Butler 1999:164). It must also be noted that racial common sense informs an epistemology of race that associates certain racial categories with certain stereo typical qualities and creates a regime of truth that informs social interaction (Hanchard 1999:164). What becomes evident is that race is devoid of ontological security and is instead performatively constituted: race (the designation and...
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