Originally posted at Salihabava.com/academic on June 27, 2010
Lincoln & Denzin (2003) identify their vision of the future of Qualitative research (QR) as the seventh movement of Qualitative Inquiry based on four assumptions (p. 611-613). One of the assumptions they identify is the Performance Turn. They state:
we anticipate a continued performance turn in qualitative inquiry, with more and more writers performing their texts for others. As ethnographic stagings, performances are always ‘enmeshed in moral matters’ (Conquergood, 1985, p. 2). Such performances ask audiences to take a stand on the performances and their meanings and, indeed, to join the performances and the creation of meaning. In these productions, performers and the audience members become cultural critics. If culture is an ongoing performance, then performers bring the spaces, meaning, ambiguities, and contradictions of culture critically alive in their performances (Conquergood, 1985). The performed text is one of qualitative researcher’s last frontiers. It is a version of Victor Turner’s (1986, p. 25) “liminal space,” an old, but new, border to be crossed. When fully embraced, this crossing will forever transform qualitative research methodology. it will serve, at the same time, to redefine the meanings of this project in its other moments and formations. (p. 612).
The Performance Turn is a call that is not limited to research and yet research is a site for knowledge production. So such a call is not only legitimacy creating (in the face of the Crisis of Legitimation) but also is call for creating the turn that is performance. The activity of performance creates what is performance. The activity is the act and the definition. The notion of ‘to act is to define’ is what makes performance transformative and generative. It grows on in itself. Performance is the human condition. It is the process and product of human activity-it is culture! Thus, culture is not a place rather it is both polyvocal ongoing performances and the spaces that are situated which situates our relational performances (identities). We are located by our performances-situated activities and connectivities and not by the place (literal or virtual) that we occupy. These performances of situated activities and connectivities recursively produce and are produced by the situated spaces.
Thus, the Performance turn is the liminal space in research, just as it is in our everyday living practices, “an old, but new, border to be crossed.” The performance turn is re-positioning culture, place, activity, space, location, identity and for that matter, performance itself. All of this can be located/performed in the liminal space (border), which ironically, due to our gaze gets located as a destabilized center….turning it all on its head….oh! what a beautiful performance is that? Can you experience the situated activity and the connectivity as we float back and forth between the border and the center? Which is which?
Even as i seek to understand, the process of understanding becomes the what of the understanding which gets destabilized and performed as we seek to create understanding of understanding, so as to create a process which will further our understanding of content which is in flow with the form of understanding….and all this gets destabilized as we start to understand the play of polyvocality of understanding understanding! So if you are tripping, so are we all….and who is to create order within this chaos?