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Performance and Politics in the Public Sphere

Author(s): Pia Wiegmink

Journal: Journal of Transnational American Studies
ISSN 1940-0764

Volume: 3;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Performance | Politics | Public Sphere | Protest

Pia Wiegmink’s timely examination of the transforming transnational spaces of protest in a globalizing and technologically mediated public sphere in “Performance and Politics in the Public Sphere” offers a well-researched review of contemporary theory surrounding ideas of the political (Chantal Mouffe), the public sphere (Jürgen Habermas), the transnational public sphere (Nancy Fraser), and the reterritorialized transnational public sphere (Markus Schroer) as the basis for her analysis of how the performance of political action in public—virtual or physical—is transformed by the capacity of the local to be played on a global stage, thus turning the citizen-actor into a cosmopolitan, transnational force. Tracing examples from the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization meetings in 1999 by the Global Justice Movement to the work of the Electronic Disturbance Theater, from the civil rights movement to the subject matter of her larger study, “The Church of Life After Shopping,” “Billionaires for Bush,” and “The Yes Men,” Wiegmink provides an important analysis of the “alternative aesthetics” of the counterpublics’ formation, dissent, and action in and against hegemony. This selection is taken from her monograph, Protest EnACTed: Activist Performance in the Contemporary United States, a strong, cultural studies–focused contribution to transnational American Studies.
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