It is widely known that Performance Studies is an academic discipline that deals mainly with performance, but the definition of this particular term remains rather fluid and therefore could be used in reference not only to the artistic activities known in English under the umbrella-term performance art that started to emerge in the 60’s, but also when speaking of rituals, games, everyday life, political statements and identity, to name just a few obvious associations. On the one hand, the question about understanding such terms as: performance, performativity and performer emerges from the broad field of expertise of Performance Studies itself, which absorbs territories and knowledge formations that until recently belonged to traditional social sciences and humanities, such as linguistics, sociology, psychology, anthropology and history. On the other hand though, terminology trouble results in unstable location of this discipline in the context or sometimes out of the context of the previous Theatre Studies investigations.
Titling this book with these three terms, Performance, Performativity and Performer, that are rooted in the verb “to perform”, which is definitely foreign to the Polish language, could suggest that our ambition is to publish a kind of a dictionary or encyclopedia that provides the reader with some ready-made definitions, without the necessity to carry out further research. However, our intention was rather to draw the areas of terminological negotiations of difference and to encourage further independent examinations. In our opinion, this book proves the strong will of Polish academic circles when it comes to not taking, without deeper reflections and doubts, theories that were developed in a foreign context, but instead critically getting involved into a wider, international debate within the framework of this new discipline.
From the Introduction