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48342-01 - Forschungsseminar: The Power of Performance - The Performance of Power 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2017
Angebotsmuster einmalig
Dozierende Till Förster (till.foerster@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Inhalt In everyday language, performance has many meanings and connotations. As a noun, it was
deduced in early modern times from the Latin verb performare, composed of per and formare,
literally “to form completely”, “to constitute entirely” or, more freely translated, “to accomplish,
to achieve [something]”. It can apply to many different things: an engine or a car performs
more or less well, assets in a bank account do also perform if they generate a benefit,
actors may do so when they represent a character in a play, and more generally, ritual acts are
often called performances. The semantic field of the word performance is extremely vast, and
so are the connotations that it carries: it can imply that something is well and successfully
done – for instance, when a car drives faster –, and it can mean that an actor entertains an
audience by doing something as singing or dancing. Basically, the root of all these connotations
is the fact that something is done.
Until the 1970s, the narrower understanding of performance as play and entertainment dominated
anthropology and its neighbouring disciplines. However, this understanding of performance
lead to thorough misunderstandings of social practice and was, since the late 1980s,
increasingly replaced by a wider, much more open concept of performance and performative
acts and practices. Today, anthropology and the humanities more generally understand performance
as the way how humans make culture and society. Performance is, in this wide understanding,
a way of creating human worlds.
This perspective also meant that neither culture nor the social are stable entities that insiders
or outsiders can describe once and forever. The study of performance thus implied new methodologies
that rose to the surface of anthropological thinking in the 1970s when modern understandings
of so-called “primitive” societies as systems of checks and balances proved
wrong. Performance in this post-modern understanding is not only an act of imagination and
creation but simultaneously a way of looking at social practice from that specific perspective.
Basically, two general questions arise and will be addressed in this seminar:

• What is created by performative acts and practices?
• How do the actors perform and eventually achieve their goals?

The interplay of theory and method will also guide this seminar. It examines social interactions
in all societies, from the micro level of face-to-face encounters to the macro level of staging
entire states and nations. It makes use of performance as a heuristic lens that focuses on
aspects of interactions, in particular their bodily and sensory dimensions that anthropology
and sociology had largely ignored until that moment in their history that is nowadays called
“the performative turn”. Though such fashionable labels do not generate any further insights,
they may be used to point at a turning point in the anthropological understanding of the social
at large.

Literatur Austin, John L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Korom, Frank J (ed.). 2013. The Anthropology of Performance. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Lowell Lewis, J. 2013. The Anthropology of Cultural Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Turner, Victor. 1987. The Anthropology of Performance. New York: PAJ Publications.


Teilnahmebedingungen Die Teilnehmerzahl ist auf 30 Personen beschränkt. Die Plätze werden nach Anmeldedatum und Studienfachzugehörigkeit vergeben. Vorrang haben die Studierenden der unter "Module" aufgelisteten Studienfächer/-gänge.
Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall wöchentlich
Datum 25.09.2017 – 04.12.2017
Zeit Montag, 10.15-12.00 Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Datum Zeit Raum
Montag 25.09.2017 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 02.10.2017 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 09.10.2017 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 06.11.2017 09.15-17.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 27.11.2017 09.15-17.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 04.12.2017 09.15-17.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Module Doktorat Afrika-Studien: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach Afrika-Studien)
Doktorat Ethnologie: Empfehlungen (Promotionsfach Ethnologie)
Modul Fields: Media and Imagination (Master Studiengang African Studies)
Modul Research Skills in Social and Cultural Anthropology (Master Studienfach Anthropology)
Modul Social Anthropology (Master Studiengang African Studies (Studienbeginn vor 01.08.2013))
Modul Theorie der Ethnologie (Master Studienfach Ethnologie (Studienbeginn vor 01.08.2013))
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
Hinweise zur Leistungsüberprüfung All students who want to write a seminar paper should do a presentation of about 45 to
60min., followed by a discussion of 30 to 45min. It is expected that the presenters writing a
seminar paper will complement their reading of relevant literature after the presentation,
based on the discussions in class.
Papers should be ca 8000 words long (approx. 20 to 25 pages, 12pt, 1.5 line spacing). Registration
for papers is open until October 31, 2017. They are due on December 31 for those who
will need the credits this semester. All others may submit their papers until the beginning of
the autumn term 2017, i.e. by February 15, 2018. All papers should be submitted as word- or
pdf-files via e-mail to till.foerster@unibas.ch.
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen keine Wiederholung
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Fachbereich Ethnologie