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Of course, these worries are not new even if an endemic problem of the 21st-century university and its processes of adaptation to neoliberal policies that attach the relevance of knowledge directly to economic valorization Bousquet; Collini. There is an evident politics of laboring here, one that guarantees the moral wellbeing of performance scholarship while at the same time compromises the face values of the discipline to the institutional mechanisms of validation and reward. These movements require a certain detachment from such institutional rewards, creating an opening towards other possibilities of generating scholarship.

Indeed terms like serious and rigorous tend to be code words, in academia as well as other contexts, for disciplinary correctness; they signal a form of training and learning that conforms what is already known according to approved methods of knowing, but they do not allow for visionary insights or flights of fancy. Halberstam 6. Viscous labor in and through performance studies is to stick together and co-perform; it is to enact a thicker way of co-laboring that welcomes friction and attrition not as hindrances to measurable productivity but as the forces that bind bodies together.

To stick together, to labor together in scholarship and performance is to create possibilities outside of institutional hierarchies of knowledge, degrees, promotion, and tenure, to build thick networks of solidarity while being attuned to the different viscosities of knowledge production and being aware of the fits and misfits of bodies, theories, and ideas as they run up against one another. In the following section, we reflect on our own experience as a team of collaborators, suggesting, where possible, relevant questions about the sticky intersections of friendship, academia and labor as seen from the perspective of our viscous framework.

The articulation of labor in a viscous environment in academia implies different practices of friendship. We think of these intellectual friendships and associations as thick relations and experience FAB as a sort of laboratory. Considering fluid states as a methodology, we experiment through the practical implications of working together for an extended period of time, thickening our relations and associations both laborious and friendly.

In our project, as in many collaborative performance projects, friendship becomes the very substance through which we experience viscosity. It robustly absorbs the stress and resistance that stretches a dynamic collective to dependent and independent trajectories. Here, friendship becomes the very condition of possibility for forging dense, sticky affinities across traditional lines of discipline, geopolitical spaces, and heterogeneous velocities.

It is a friendship that congeals through the performative practice of laboring together, which, in turn, thickens its consistency. This is not to valorize such arrangements: practices of co-laboring that involve friendly environments have been increasingly normalized as the worksite of the 21st century. These practices blur the modern division of life according to distinct spheres of labor and leisure, effectively combining both spheres so as to maximize the productivity of an individual and of the working group.

why performance studies?

Friendship, malleability, and creativity are now indexed as ideal skills for the workplace. In this sense we might ask: what are the disciplinary axioms of performance studies that define what scholars are allowed to do when they stick together? Working through thick relations creates structures of support that bring together different intellectual, physical and personal capacities. Projects like Fluid States would simply not be possible without a level of friendship.

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These relations and friendships are viscous structures that grow thicker, stronger, and smarter through interaction. As much as an academic friendship involves the coming together of several intelligences to address the ideas in coordination — a multiple entry point into the world — it also involves establishing lasting support systems that are located at the intersection of the personal and the professional. The commitment to be a professional undercommon and an unprofessional common weighs in here.

As we were writing this this section, one of us fell behind. He: I am contritely aware of having failed to adhere to the rhythm of writing we had set out, especially as I am conscious of the burden of accommodation that my friends would inevitably bear. Even though I trust the thickness of this friendship that has developed over the course of a year is robust enough to absorb the stresses of occasional crises and failures, I do not take for granted the undercurrent and labor of care that is expressed in these moments.

In my failure to stick, my friend flowed in to offer a scaffold to which I agglutinate and through which I enunciate and disarticulate in this entangled labor. The process of writing this is and has been a performance of avowal of this viscous friendship.

This emptying of self, or selflessness, must be taken up in writing as a collective endeavor. It is very difficult to write, to work collaboratively and remain selfish, but this does not simply gesture towards an easy relinquishing of the self. We are not a collective predicated on the equivalence of identification or similarity but on sticky differences that engender an approximation, a tending towards and for one another, a generative gesturing towards the other, a movement of flow that does not seek to replace emptiness with plenitude. Stickiness, then, also becomes a critical quality that buttresses against the many failures that the precariousness of coming together is subject to.

In other words, even when friendship is being rendered as a capitalistic skill in the current moment of the information economies, and paradoxically also condemned when it does not conform to those indexes of production, we contend that sticking together in academia is already a productive strategy to alleviate the imperative on the individual and on the collective to perform, or else.

Thinking academic work through thicker states places the professional scholar in a position where learning is pivotal and distances intellectual work from the myth of consecrated erudition. Certainly, having thicker friendships is not enough. Due to the high volume of feedback, we are unable to respond to individual comments.

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Performance Studies: An Introduction - Performativity

John Clammer. Ritual and Event. Mark Franko. If Memory Serves. Christopher Castiglia. Acting Re Considered. Phillip B. Kobena Mercer.

The Rise of Performance Studies

Manifesto Now! Laura Cull. Autobiography and Performance. Deirdre Heddon. Simon Coleman. Mark Fortier. Grotowski, Women, and Contemporary Performance. Virginie Magnat. The Routledge Reader in Gender and Performance. Lizbeth Goodman. The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism. Steven Connor.

The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance. Paul Allain. The Cambridge Introduction to Performance Theory. Simon Shepherd. From Acting to Performance. Philip Auslander. The Routledge Companion to Art and Politics. Randy Martin. A Performance Cosmology. Judie Christie. Social Works. Shannon Jackson.

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Theatre of Movement and Gesture. Jacques Lecoq. The Persistence of Taste. Malcolm Quinn. Making Connections. Peggy Hackney.


The Multilingual Screen. Tijana Mamula. Ornament and Order. Rafael Schacter. African Art, Interviews, Narratives. Joanna Grabski.