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Theater and Performance

Performance As Method

While performance studies scholars espouse a range of often innovative methodologies, the ephemeral, subjective nature of performance as its subject matter poses unique challenges. For a majority of those in the field, understanding performance as a way of knowing entails a commitment to participant-observer ethnography as the principal research methodology. Dwight Conquergood, who has written extensively on this issue, sees the performance ethnographer and her "informant" (or the teacher and student, performer and audience) as engaged in reciprocal, collaborative performances. Studying performance in this way foregrounds cultural knowledge as contingent, socially located, embodied, and contested, and implies that the ethnographer is directly implicated in and responsible to the community in which he or she studies. Following from this assumption, performance studies scholars frequently vaunt an open, politicized commitment to a position within their field and understand their performance scholarship as a mode of advocacy as much as analysis. Furthermore, they are frequently practitioners or artists themselves, confusing traditional anthropological distinctions between the subject and object of research.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Thallophyta to ToxicologyTheater and Performance - Performance Studies' Interdisciplinary Genealogy, Performance As Object, Performance As Method, Performance, Performativity, And Theatricality