• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

The SAGE Handbook of Performance Studies brings together, in a single volume, reviews of the major research in performance studies and identifies directions for further investigation. It is the only comprehensive collection on the theories, methods, politics, and practices of performance relating to life and culture. Edited by D. Soyini Madison and Judith Hamera, this Handbook serves scholars and students across the disciplines by delineating the scope of the field, the critical and interpretive methods used, and the theoretical and ethical presumptions that guide work in this exciting and growing area.

The Problem Democracy Is Supposed to Solve: The Politics of Community-Based Performance
The problem democracy is supposed to solve: The politics of community-based performance

Getting communities involved in imagining their future is the problem that democracy is supposed to solve.

—Law theorists Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres (2002, p. 219)

The subject of this essay is the politics of community-based performance, expressed both directly by way of efforts to impact the status quo—i.e., activist performance—and indirectly by the very inclusive and participatory nature of its form, whatever the content of particular projects. Let me begin by clarifying my terms.

Community-based performance is characterized by deep interaction between artists and constituents grounded in a shared aspect of identity or circumstances. Professional artists, informed in some way by community participants, explore ...

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