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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews prominent theories of ‘performance’ and ‘performativity’ and compares them to theories of ritual. It begins with important theories of performativity in language, and moves on to discussions of the relation between performativity in theatre and in ritual. This chapter argues shows how a focus on performativity in religion and ritual emphasizes embodiment over cognition, situated communication over linguistic structure, and contextual meaning over propositional content. This chapter considers the example of Indian popular theatre and its relation to Indian theology. It also reviews important theories of performativity associated with Austin, Goffman, Schechner, Tambiah, and Turner, arguing that a performative approach to religion and ritual sees them as emergent, contingent, creative, dynamic, embodied, open-ended, and above all context-dependent.

Keywords: drama, performance, performativity, ritual, theatre

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