In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Performance Studies

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Dwight Conquergood
  • Future Development

Anthropology Performance Studies
D. Soyini Madison
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0119


Performance has evolved into ways of comprehending how human beings fundamentally make culture, affect power, and reinvent their ways of being in the world. The insistence on performance as a way of creation and being in contrast to the limited notion of performance as primarily entertainment has brought forth a movement to seek and articulate the phenomenon of performance in its multiple manifestations and imaginings. Understanding performance in this broader and more complex way has opened up endless questions that interrogate and enrich our understanding of history, identity, community, nation, and politics. Performance may now be embraced as an act of the imagination, a method or model of critique, and a politics of intervention. When one understands performance beyond theatricality and recognizes it as fundamental and inherent to life and culture, one enters the ambiguities of everyday, empirical spaces and places that are foreign, contentious, and often under siege. One enters the ordinary and discreet and interprets both poetics and politics to discover extraordinary and embodied meanings and practices. Performance can no longer be defined as primarily mimetic or theatrical, but is instead defined by the multiple elements that it now demands and that inhere within the shifting domains of performative analytical frameworks; by its embodied methodologies and poetic applications; and by situated modes of action that are within the dramaturgy of social life, cultural performances, and spectacular events. Performance and ethnography combine in this bibliography, which lists selected sources that illuminate performance as theory, method, praxis, social process, cultural event, rhetorical poetics, and embodied action.


The most timely and pertinent performance studies research is available to anthropologists and ethnographers in a range of peer-reviewed and refereed journals. Liminalities: A Journal of Performance publishes multimedia texts and projects beyond traditional print journals. PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art and Performance Research Journal embrace the intersections of scholarship and practice within a broad range of art forms, such as video, dance, and installation works. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance focuses on applied performance and pedagogy across international forums. Text and Performance Quarterly presents a spectrum of performance texts and contexts relevant more specifically to communication theory and practice. Theatre Topics offers provocative examples and analysis directed at theater practitioners. TDR/The Drama Review is one of the first journals to focus on debates on and analysis of social performance and the political economies of performance. Women in Performance explores gender politics and difference in diverse forms and histories.

  • Liminalities: A Journal of Performance. 2005–.

    An online, peer-reviewed, open-access publication founded in 2005 that focuses on expanding peer-reviewed work, nationally and internationally, and creating a broader opportunity multimedia texts and projects.

  • PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art. 1976–.

    Examines international performance video, drama, dance, installation, media, film, and music from live performance to the visual arts. A special review section for performances, exhibitions, and international festivals is featured in each issue.

  • Performance Research Journal. 1996–.

    A specialist journal published six times a year, with an interdisciplinary emphasis on contemporary performance within changing world cultures. Although published in English, submissions in the contributor’s preferred language are encouraged.

  • Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. 1996–.

    RiDE is a peer-reviewed journal aimed at applying performance practices toward cultural engagement, educational innovation, and social change. It offers an international forum for performance conducted in community, educational, developmental, and therapeutic contexts.

  • TDR/The Drama Review.

    TDR is concerned with social, economic, and political contexts while emphasizing experimental, avant-garde, intercultural, and interdisciplinary performances.

  • Text and Performance Quarterly. 1980–.

    Peer-reviewed journal focusing on performance as a vital component of human communication. Scope includes cultural performance, performance theory, performance history, performance ethnography, performance in everyday life, performance as methodology, technologies of performance, and performance in popular culture.

  • Theatre Topics. 1991–.

    The first theater publication dedicated to theater and performance practitioners. The goal is to inform readers on the latest developments in theater practice on the stage and in the classroom.

  • Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory. 1983–.

    A peer-reviewed journal exploring feminist critiques of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, technology, and nation in diverse performance contexts.

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