Arts & International Affairs: Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2018 - Page 3

ARTS & INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS • VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 • SPRING 2018 EDITORIAL: PERFORMATIVITY AND PARTICIPATION J.P. SINGH Professor and Chair of Culture and Political Economy Director, Institute for International Cultural Relations, The University of Edinburgh T he performative repertoire of the arts is comprised of cues, symbols, rituals, cer- emonies, presentations and narratives—not unlike that of cultures themselves. Goffman (1959) notes that these dramaturgical cues are inherent in any society, readily understood and re-enacted habitually by the participants. The cultural politics of the arts are, arguably, inherently performative and participatory. Performativity is when the act of communication imparts social meaning (Butler 1993). Participation in the arts can vary from attending a performance to puzzling and providing public reasons to other participants for one’s position. Participation can include manipu- lation, contestation and problem-solving (Elster 1998; Singh and Flyverbom 2016). Interacting cultures produce tremendous anxieties and disruptions in narratives: a clash of symbols and rituals, if not civilizations. As embodiments and representations of cul- tures, the arts can have tremendous power, with both positive and negative implications, to make the participants reflect on the cues that make up a societal or dramatic perfor- mativity across cultural interactions. This issue takes up two broad global themes related to performativity and participation. The first distinguishes a dramatic performance from the politics that it enacts. Perfor- mance here implies the theatrical enactment of performativity, often from a presentation space. The second examines the value and interactions that make up our cultural politics. The performativity of political actors and the limits of their theatricality undergird our first theme. Miia Huttunen’s essay on UNESCO presents the organization as a possible vision for an international society wherein not all the actors conform to the organiza- tion’s script for peace. Despite the political fissures, she presents the 1959 film catalogue the Orient from UNESCO, prepared in cooperation with the British Film Institute, as a way to understand and interact across cultures with possibilities for peace. The shared motivation for peace lies in the performativity for peace in the catalogue: “The catalogue is clearly a call to arms, aiming to unite the peoples of the world in a battle against igno- rance, prejudice and misinformation—all of them worthy opponents to attack, although slightly more abstract than a concrete, physical enemy.” In contrast, Olga Taxidou takes a step back in examining the “hypocrisy” of actors who perform our politics. She returns to hupocrites, or the actors who were different from 3 doi: 10.18278/aia.3.1.1