The work of performativity

Staging social justice at the University of Southern California

Donna Houston*, Laura Pulido

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we offer an alternative reading of the role of performativity and everyday forms of resistance in current geographic literature. We make a case for thinking about performativity as a form of embodied dialectical praxis via a discussion of the ways in which performativity has been recently understood in geography. Turning to the tradition of Marxist revolutionary theater, we argue for the continued importance of thinking about the power of performativity as a socially transformative, imaginative, and collective political engagement that works simultaneously as a space of social critique and as a space for creating social change. We illustrate our point by examining two different performative strategies employed by food service workers at the University of Southern California in their struggle for a fair work contract and justice on the job.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-424
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes

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