Moving Together: Migration, Periperformativity and Collaboration

Paper delivered at The Between: Couple Forms, Performing Together. Department of Performance Studies, NYU. 2018. Co-written and co-presented with dancer and educator Vanessa Vargas.

In 2016, latina student Tiffany Martinez’ professor wrote the following in one of her papers: “This is not your language”. She also highlighted her use of the word “hence”, suggesting she was practicing plagiarism. Martinez’ experience resonates with many migrants’. This professor’s response exemplifies what J.L. Austin denominated explicit performative utterances, those that beyond meaning something, do something. As a response, Tiffany Martinez published a post that sparked a wider conversation on discrimination in academia, with people sharing similar anecdotes or standing with her in solidarity. After J.L. Austin, Eve Sedgwick, poet, scholar, and educator, became interested in other type of utterances, those that go around the imposition of roles that comes into effect with the explicit performatives, she named these periperformative utterances. In this lecture-performance, we examine some explicit performatives that migrants are commonly subjected to and the role of alliances and collaboration in developing or strengthening periperformative responses to them. Amidst the precariousness of being deterritorialized, of being a migrant, calling ourselves “us” (“nosotras,” in Spanish), activates a new kind of presence, a specific way of being and doing: it potentiates the idea of a couple with poetic and political potentialities, belonging to each other while not-belonging together. As a women-couple in this context, we want to explore the periperformative potentiality of the duo and of collaboration as as a liminal, intimate place, a territory that potentiates creation, imagination, friendship and the commons.

Full paper available upon request.