Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times
eBook - ePub

Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times

Elin Diamond, Denise Varney, Candice Amich, Elin Diamond, Denise Varney, Candice Amich

Share book
ePUB (mobile friendly)
Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times

Elin Diamond, Denise Varney, Candice Amich, Elin Diamond, Denise Varney, Candice Amich

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

This book is a provocative new study of global feminist activism that opposes neoliberal regimes across several sites including Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the United States. The feminist performative acts featured in the book contest the aggressive unravelling of collectively won gains in gender, sexual and racial equality, the appearance of new planes of discrimination, and the social consequences of political economies based on free market ideology. The investigations of affect theory follow the circulation of intensities – of political impingements on bodies, subjective and symbolic violence, and the shock of dispossession – within and beyond individuals to the social and political sphere. Affect is a helpful matrix for discussing the volatile interactivity between performer and spectator, whether live or technologically mediated. Contending that there is no activism without affect, the collection brings back to the table the activist and hopeful potential of feminism.

Frequently asked questions
How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times by Elin Diamond, Denise Varney, Candice Amich, Elin Diamond, Denise Varney, Candice Amich in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Sciences sociales & Études relatives au genre. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.


© The Author(s) 2017
Elin Diamond, Denise Varney and Candice Amich (eds.)Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal TimesContemporary Performance InterActions
Begin Abstract

1. Introduction

Elin Diamond1 , Denise Varney2 and Candice Amich3
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
End Abstract
Over the past four years, the Feminist Research Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research has developed and refined new cross-cultural research on performance, feminism, and affect in the era we refer to—after Brown (2015), Dardot and Laval (2013), Connell (2010), Foucault (2008/2010), Harvey (2007) and others—as our ‘neoliberal times’. While our international roster of authors specifies local differences in how markets and governments operate, all agree that the neoliberal mantra of free trade, weakened government regulation, unfettered entrepreneurship, and privatization of social services has become an ‘order of reason’, one that relentlessly translates social, political, and affective life into economic metrics. If that translation is erratic and unsystematic it is because, as Connell puts it, ‘neoliberal regimes are created by stitching together a coalition of social forces and finding a locally gripping ideological language’ to defend it (2010: 35).
Performance, this volume argues, may be part of that social stitching, or part of its unravelling; often it is both. Time-bound, expressive, and culturally marked, some performing bodies appear to be saturated with the terror of precarious life: a woman pushes a cart of unidentified and unmourned human bones through a public square, figuring the affective and moral harm of social life from which all government protections have been withdrawn, including protection against state violence (see Bernstein, Chap. 22; also Amich, Chap. 8; Dutt, Chap. 9; Contreras, Chap. 19). When spectators fail to react to performances of bodily vulnerability, does their inaction indicate the numbness of habitual fear or the quiet beginnings of resistance—or both? Feminist intent in some performances may backfire spectacularly (see Rosenberg, Chap. 10) or succeed ambivalently, especially when combined intersectionally with ethnic and racial critique (see D’Urso, Chap. 4; Svens, Chap. 6). 1 Still other performances reveal the neoliberal fetish of the individualist entrepreneur, surfing the waves of free-market capitalism and global media (see Carlson, Chap. 11; Monks, Chap. 12). Such performances reveal the new ‘habits of the heart’ (Harvey 2007: 3) wrought by neoliberal (in)versions of ‘individual freedom’ and ‘personal responsibility’. They illuminate the affective and structural shifts that have demeaned and dismantled democratically won labour rights and reversed gains in gender and racial equality. What excites us is delivering to readers the performance news about neoliberalism’s erratic spread from a number of key sites where it has taken hold, namely Sweden, France, India, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and the United States. Similarly far reaching, our chapters document performance in ritual spaces, conventional theatres, department store elevators, corporate property, village squares, public sidewalks, parliament chambers, YouTube videos, and massive political spectacles. Linking them is the critical focus of this volume: all are complex responses to lived experiences of precarity, dispossession, and struggle in neoliberal times.
Equally complex, but unabashedly asserted, are the feminist perspectives articulated in our chapters. To David Harvey’s notion that neoliberalism is ‘a radical reconfiguration of class relations’ aimed at restoring ‘ruling-class power’ (2007: 35, 16), we add that it is also the restoration of patriarchal power, reconstituted less in terms of the family and the state than by the ‘invisible hand’ of corporate capital. By way of incentivizing competition, capital markets demand the dismantling of labour rights and health services, with disastrous consequences for women, who are the traditional caretakers of children and the elderly. The vaunted ‘virility’ of the intrepid entrepreneur indicates ‘an embedded masculinity politics in the neoliberal project’ (Connell 2010: 33), highlighted by the friendly relations between neoliberal policies and neoconservative nationalisms in sites around the world. Yet second-wave feminism’s opposition to misogynistic discriminatory practices in public and private sectors—its push for equal opportunity and equal pay, for example—has come under attack for unwittingly endorsing the policies of neoliberal marketeers who also seek to be rid of traditional regulatory restraints (Fraser 2013: 220). The neoliberal promise of open markets and female advancement has distorted second-wave aspirations; the jobs on offer in the neoliberal marketplace can mean, for both men and women, depressed wages, job insecurity, and a steep rise in the number of hours worked for wages. As Fraser notes, neoliberal capitalism ‘has as much to do with Walmart, maquiladoras, and micro-credit as with Silicon Valley and Google’ (2013: 220).
Fraser’s feminist critique of second-wave feminism is an important hindsight report. More complicated is the assertion since the 1990s of ‘postfeminism’, which claims to have absorbed feminist ideas, images, and rhetorics while insisting that struggles for social and gender justice are over. Postfeminism is the happy creature of neoliberalism. As Gil and Scharff put it, ‘the autonomous, calculating, self-regulating subject of neoliberalism bears a strong resemblance to the active, freely choosing, self-inventing subject of post-feminism’ (cited in French, Chap. 13). And yet we know artists—no strangers to precarious existence in any era—who embrace the challenges and opportunities of neoliberal times. Out of necessity they have learned to ride the waves of precarity, writing grants while waiting tables or working as contract labour in businesses and universities. The picture for feminism is decidedly mixed: hardworking women entrepreneurs are celebrated in the press as triumphal examples of postfeminism even as female poverty and income inequality increase. If neoliberalism hasbecome our common reality, it is because (like postfeminism) it includes in order to exclude feminist and queer energies, even as, with far less ambiguity, it nurtures neoconservative bigotry, neonationalist aggressions, and an amnesic nostalgia that obscures persistent homophobia and misogyny (see Case, Chap. 2; Varney, Chap. 3). Long understood to be a ‘philosophy of questions’ (Jardine 1985: 143), Western feminism typically confronts gender bias through materialist critique that aims to right wrongs. Yet the neoliberal version of contemporary capitalism constitutes a moving target, exposing the liberal roots, Marxist commitments, queer auto-critique, and, most importantly, the global and intersectional nature and plurality of feminist questions. Our contributors have found a corpus of texts, particularly by Connell, Brown, Harvey, Ahmed, and Butler, to be especially useful in interweaving neoliberalism, affect theory, and traditions of feminist performance critique. These theorists are cited to historicize neoliberalism (see Canning, Chap. 16), explore precarity (see Shim, Chap. 17), and testify to the persistence of struggle in neoliberal times.
And yet, as our volume shows, the world has not become homogeneous; neither are neoliberal regimes everywhere dominant or stable. Collective resistance movements joined locally by feminists of all stripes are growing and interacting across the world. In the time-honoured traditions of protest art, performers lend their skills to local resistance actions, their bodies in performance generating affects, images, slogans, and joyous energy in defiant rejection of the anti-democratic policies, earth-destroying consumerism, and social repression that underpin neoliberal governance (see Taylor, Chap. 7). Yet resistance has many registers. Chapters on politicized, oppositional, and interventionist artists are joined in the book by analyses of female performers who are disciplined by corporate ‘values’ or residual patriarchal prejudice, as in the analysis of the working conditions of Bollywood dancers who lack agency in the entertainment juggernaut in which they are rendered expendable service providers (see Sarkar, Chap. 14), or dancers in traditional forms such as Swaang (see Sharma, Chap. 18). The fragility yet resilience of the body in performance is tested by a durational performance in a hardscrabble Dublin neighbourhood where a feminist spectator is constantly discomfited (see Hill, Chap. 21), or in the small gestures of communal solidarity amidst the toxic spaces of Fukushima (see Jennison, Chap. 23), or in the collective mirroring of elevator girls in a free-trade Japanese department store (see Anan, Chap. 5). Contending that there is no resistance or endurance without affect, we have invited our contributors to follow the circulation of intensities—visceral harm as well as resilience—which moves us beyond individual bodies to networks of interconnection (see Diamond, Chap. 20). Affect guides us to think of new forms of relationality conducive to exploring the many vectors of feeling aroused by performance. It focuses us on the exciting, sometimes volatile interactivity of performer and spectator, whether live or technologically mediated (see Budde, Chap. 15).
Indebted to recent anthologies and monographs such as The Grammar of Politics and Performance (Rai and Reinelt 2015), Fair Play: Art, Performance, and Neoliberalism (Harvie 2013), Neoliberalism and Global Theatres (Nielsen and Ybarra 2012), Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Fraser 2013), Performance in the Blockades of Neoliberalism (Wickstrom 2012), and Neoliberalism and Everyday Life (Bradley and Luxton 2010), as well as to important studies on performance affect (Aston 2012; Warner 2012; Rivera-Servera 2012; Hurley 2010; Thompson 2009; Dolan 2005), our book makes a timely contribution to contemporary discussions. As scholars of feminist and women’s theatre and performance in diverse performance cultures, our contributors identify powerful features of women’s responses to the rise of neoliberal governance, forging lines of solidarity through cross-cultural empathies and shared experiences of neoliberal policies. We believe that these forms of performance exhibit a renewed sense of the political in performance—one that hinges on, but is not contained by, the limits of neoliberal existence. Our book demonstrates that the nexus of feminism, performance, and affect constitutes a powerful, activist engagement with contemporary life, and presents some of the most courageous acts of opposition to the depredations of existence in neoliberal times.
Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times is divided into five sections. Part I, Affect, Performance, and the Neoliberal State, considers the role of the state in shaping and regulating emotion and affect. In ‘The Affective Performance of State Love’, Sue-Ellen Case analyzes new federally and state-sanctioned same-sex marriage laws as an emerging rite of lesbian rights in the neoliberal US context. If rapturous performances of emotional commitment in the offices of registrars and in front of municipal courthouses signal the granting of long-withheld civil and legal rights to gay people, they also, Case argues, imprint a radical minoritarian sexuality with the heteronormative sanctimony of ‘state love’. In ‘“Not Now, Not Ever”: Julia Gillard and the Performance Power of Affect’, Denise Varney investigates the hard right neoliberal and neoconservative attacks on Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, which capitalized on her gender, her unmarried state, and her alleged rejection of motherhood to strip her of her authority and bring down her government. Varney analyses the performative power of Gillard’s ‘Misogyny Speech’ of October 2012, drawing on recent work on affect and performativity to argue that her rhetorical flourishes and bodily gestures have earned her a significant place in the history of Australian feminist performance. Also writing about Australia, but from the perspective of women at the other end of the power continuum, Sandra D’Urso, in ‘Performing Sovere...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times
APA 6 Citation
[author missing]. (2017). Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times ([edition unavailable]). Palgrave Macmillan UK. Retrieved from (Original work published 2017)
Chicago Citation
[author missing]. (2017) 2017. Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times. [Edition unavailable]. Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Harvard Citation
[author missing] (2017) Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times. [edition unavailable]. Palgrave Macmillan UK. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
[author missing]. Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times. [edition unavailable]. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2017. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.