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date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In the past decade or so, there has been a substantial body of work in law and humanities in which “performance” serves as a key word, an umbrella term for a highly diverse set of inquiries: the examination of trials as theater, courtroom testimony, improvisatory judicial interpretation, embodied cognition, “acoustic jurisprudence,” adversarial agonism, physiognomic credibility, video representation, symbolic “speech,” police encounters, terrorism, the production of legal identities, and more. This chapter explores the meaning of “performance” in such studies, and recounts the author’s attempts to map the terrain: to identify the separate kinds of inquiry that make up the study of law and performance; to offer a taxonomic overview of the whole. It describes the challenges the author encountered in attempting to do so, and what these reveal of the issues facing the study of law and performance. The last section reflects on some of the risks of interdisciplinary study generally, and the potential benefits that might accrue to law and performance if it resists becoming a “field” and remains, instead, a contingent conjunction.

Keywords: performance, performativity, theatricality, interdisciplinary, disciplinary

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