Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2000


Main discipline: Social Anthropology
Lecturer: Professor Don Kulick,
University of Stockholm, Sweden

Course description
Performativity is a concept that in a very short time has gone from the relative obscurity of arcane philosophical discussions about language to a buzzword that increasingly appears in a wide array of social science and humanist studies. This course offers a firm grounding in performative theory. It traces the theoretical roots of performativity and examines in depth various dimensions of how the concept has been developed and employed, especially by Judith Butler.

Because performativity in Butler's theorizing is intrinsically bound up with psychoanalytic understandings of repression and foreclosure, the final lessons address the status and role of the prohibited in understandings of performativity, and ask how silences in social life can be identified and analyzed. Teaching will consist of both lectures and discussion seminars, at which participants summarize and discuss the literature.

Basic readings

The lecturer
Don Kulick is professor of anthropology at Stockholm University. He is the author of Travesti: sex, gender and culture among Brazilian transgendered prostitutes (University of Chicago Press, 1998), and Language shift and cultural reproduction: socialization, syncretism and self in a Papua New Guinean village (CUP, 1992). He has also edited several anthologies, including Taboo: sex, gender and erotic subjectivity in anthropological fieldwork (with M. Willson, Routledge, 1995), and Queer theory (Scandinavian U Press, 1996). His current research interests center on the relationship between language, sexuality, desire, and silence.