performance studies in Portugal?

From our perspective Performance Studies still lacks a sustained implementation in Portugal. In spite of over three decades of existence and a considerable body of knowledge within critical studies, Performance Studies is still an unexplored field of study in this country. There is a considerable amount of fundamental texts yet to be translated into Portuguese and the existing translations are scattered through editions that are hard to find. There is no Performance Studies department in the Portuguese university and its scope is still mainly limited the performing arts and addressed in an episodic manner. Interdisciplinary research in social sciences, arts and humanities is far from being considered a common practice and still approached with suspicion.

To address Performance Studies in a Portuguese context it is necessary to analyse its definitions, clarify discrepancies and find its appropriate historical and geographical equivalences. In order to make an in-depth questioning of what might constitute performance studies in Portugal one has to take into consideration Portugal’s own epistemological history. Special attention should be given to Richard Schechner’s expression ‘Broad Spectrum’ in relation to Performance Studies and the social sciences should be taken into consideration. Performance Studies should not relate exclusively to art, neither should experimental theatre be left out of its scope. Further, the term performance is not restricted to performance art or to dance. Special attention has to be given to the fact that the discourse of Performance Studies engages with the world, from a critical standpoint as opposed to eventual scientific neutrality. Concerned with issues of translation and refusing to ‘franchise’ an original Anglo-Saxon term and field of study, we consider it fundamental to thoroughly question this appropriation. We seek to connect with Performance Studies’ fundamental premisses and articulate them with our own research practice by addressing notions of locatedness and by maintaining a fruitful dialogue with which we were already committed through our individual research paths.It is within this framework that the proposed texts, necessarily incomplete and in construction, are being continuously reformulated and contextualized.

These texts come from different and irregular sources and most of the time are made of compiled data that is added collectively. We decided to record its authorship not necessarily for reasons of “specialization” but to simplify its editing. Through these texts we seek to find a genealogy of sorts of the areas that constitute Performance Studies. Likewise we have revisited our own history within anthropology, theatre studies, performance art, cultural studies, dance studies and gender studies. We would also like to add post-colonial studies and the most recent (Portuguese) studies where the term performance is claimed, such as the relation between architecture and performance and musical studies. Perhaps one day we might also address the reception of structuralism and poststructuralism in Portugal. This is, of course, a very ambitious plan and very difficult to carry out, specially considering the precarious situation of the researchers. Each of these texts requires a considerable investment of time and is in itself a full body of research work. Nevertheless, the emergence of a discourse of Performance Studies in Portugal justifies our intention of bringing together related practices and identifying the research done in the intersection of all aforementioned fields in Portugal.

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