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Approaching Transnational America in Performance

Edited By Birgit M. Bauridl and Pia Wiegmink

The volume is uniquely located at the interdisciplinary crossroads of Performance Studies and transnational American Studies. As both a method and an object of study, performance deepens our understanding of transnational phenomena and America’s position in the world. The thirteen original contributions make use of the field’s vast potential and critically explore a wide array of cultural, political, social, and aesthetic performances on and off the stage. They scrutinize transnational trajectories and address issues central to the American Studies agenda such as representation, power, (ethnic and gender) identities, social mobility, and national imaginaries. As an American Studies endeavor, the volume highlights the cultural, political, and (inter)disciplinary implications of performance.

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Playing (with the) Future: Biology and Preemptive Performativity (Frederike Offizier)


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Frederike Offizier

Playing (with the) Future: Biology and Preemptive Performativity

Abstract: Turning to performances that are not at first sight considered cultural, this essay focuses on biosecurity practices such as scenario exercises. It shows how they perform and (re-)produce national identity narratives, while establishing a preemptive relation to future events.

[T]he consciousness of being at war, and therefore in danger, makes the handing-over of all power to a small caste seem the natural, unavoidable condition of survival.(George Orwell, 1984)

The world has been hit by a terrorist attack with smallpox, and the disease is spreading relentlessly throughout the globe. It devastates countries and throws the unprepared world into turmoil. This end-time scenario might sound like a prequel to Cormack McCarthy’s The Road, however, it is the storyline of the governmental exercise “Atlantic Storm” that serves to prepare for this kind of crisis. Such preparedness exercises imagine and perform worst-case scenarios that also increasingly dominate popular culture. Survival and emergency kits are trending and do not just represent a niche consumer product. This is not surprising, since contemporary culture is often said to be a culture of fear, marked and over-determined by so many dangers that it pervades every facet of life (Furedi; Svendsen). This culture of fear has found many expressions in governmental practices in the past decades. Especially after 9/11, fear seems to have legitimized many governmental responses to the terror attacks such as...

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