This year we return to QUORUM with a research group Performance and Political Economy.
This year, we will be hosting events both online and in person whenever possible. Tickets are free but please RSVP.
Theatre and performance studies is awash with scholarship that examines performance in relation to its labour processes, modes of management, financial infrastructures, and so forth. But there lacks shared critical understanding of what terms such as “value” or “capital” mean and how they can be applied when studying performance forms like theatre, dance, or live art. The range of meanings that performance scholars attach to the word “commodity” or even the seemingly obvious entities of “class” and “the state,” for example, reveals more than a slight degree of imprecision or disagreement. It indicates a lack of systematic thought and, consequently, a need to interrogate the categories used for discussing performance’s political economy.
Collectively written by nine people, “Marxist Keywords for Performance” (2021) contributes to growing critical attention within theatre and performance studies towards political economy by defining key Marxist concepts and exploring how they can be applied to study performance. Ahead of our project’s publication in a joint issue of The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism and Global Performance Studies: GPS, this presentation introduces our aims in writing the keywords and reflects on the collective research, carried out in the midst of the pandemic, that went into them. As Tithi Bhattacharya (2017) reminds us, the aim of any critique of political economy should be to “restore to the ‘economic’ process its messy, sensuous, gendered, raced, and unruly component: living human beings capable of following orders—as well as of flouting them.” A critique of the political economy of performance, as we understand it, should have this same goal.
About Performance and Political Economy
Performance and Political Economy (PPE) began meeting as a monthly seminar in London in May 2018. This iteration of our keywords project has nine contributors, but our collaborative research process involves input from the wider collective. The contributors to “Marxist Keywords for Performance” are: Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal, Shane Boyle, Ash Dilks, Caoimhe Mader McGuinness, Olive Mckeon, Lisa Moravec, Alessandro Simari, Clio Unger, Martin Young.
The presentation will be delivered in person and online by Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal (Birkbeck), Shane Boyle (Queen Mary), Caoimhe Mader McGuinness (Kingston), and Martin Young (Anglia Ruskin).