Article: "The material subject as political: Style and pointing in public performance" – University of Copenhagen

17 June 2013

Article: "The material subject as political: Style and pointing in public performance"

Article by Inger Sjørslev, Associate Professor at Department of Anthropology, in Anthropological Theory 12(2), 2012.

Performartive Practices and materiality
How can a material approach to public manifestations contribute to a wider understanding of performative practices and their transformative potential? This article takes two roads in illuminating answers to this question:

  • First, a re-reading of Turner’s work on performance in the light of newer performance theory
  • Secondly, an application of insights from materialist theory in elaborating how subjects are constituted as political and self-objectifying within the performative frame.

Performances in Brazil and Denmark
Two ethnographic examples serve as light illustrations to the overall argument. One is a classical religious procession by The Sisterhood of the Good Death in Bahia, Brazil. The other is the Climate Demonstration at the COP 15 in Copenhagen. Style and aesthetics are discussed, and pointing is introduced as a key phenomenon.

Transformative potential in public manifestations
Within the performative frame the material subject brings forth the transformative potential of the liminoid in public manifestations. The material subject creates presence and materializes the virtual by pointing to a possible future.

Read the full article (requires access to sagepub.com).