1st Edition

In Between Subjects A Critical Genealogy of Queer Performance

By Amelia Jones Copyright 2021
    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume is a study of the connected ideas of "queer" and "gender performance" or "performativity" over the past several decades, providing an ambitious history and crucial examination of these concepts while questioning their very bases.

    Addressing cultural forms from 1960s–70s sociology, performance art, and drag queen balls to more recent queer voguing performances by Pasifika and Māori people from New Zealand and pop culture television shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race, the book traces how and why "queer" and "performativity" seem to belong together in so many discussions around identity, popular modes of gender display, and performance art. Drawing on art history and performance studies but also on feminist, queer, and sexuality studies, and postcolonial, indigenous, and critical race theoretical frameworks, it seeks to denaturalize these assumptions by questioning the US-centrism and white-dominance of discourses around queer performance or performativity. The book’s narrative is deliberately recursive, itself articulated in order performatively to demonstrate the specific valence and social context of each concept as it emerged, but also the overlap and interrelation among the terms as they have come to co-constitute one another in popular culture and in performance and visual arts theory, history, and practice.  

    Written from a hybrid art historical and performance studies point of view, this will be essential reading for all those interested in art, performance, and gender, as well as in queer and feminist theory.

    List of illustrations



    Chapter 1: Introduction: performing (queer) art and theory, relationally

    Chapter 2: Performativity

    Chapter 3: Relationality

    Chapter 4: Theatricality

    Chapter 5: Queer

    Chapter 6: Other

    Chapter 7: Trans


    A feminist curator, theorist, and historian of art and performance, Amelia Jones is the Robert A. Day Professor and Vice Dean of Academics and Research at the Roski School of Art and Design at University of Southern California.

    "Amelia Jones has written another essential book. In Between Subjects: A Critical Genealogy of Queer Performance deftly traces post-WWII theories, practices, and poetics of relationality and queer performativity across a globally diverse range of performance-based artworks. The back-stories she brings to the fore, and the genealogies she illuminates for readers are punctuated by movingly visceral and highly local accounts in which the author performs her relations to the art works she summons to account. This book will be a vital companion not only for art historians and performance theorists but for all whose inquiries into art making, life making, and world making congregate under or otherwise gesture toward capacious, critical, and affirmative queerness."

    Rebecca Schneider, Brown University


    "Deftly moving between the personal and historical, Amelia Jones dives into the concept of queerness such that its conjunction with performance unfurls into the fraught territories of race, coloniality, and the nature of presence. Jones anchors these unruly genealogies with meditations on performances so that the question of betweenness hovers in the air, always moving between what has already been done and what can be done. How have we learned to think about performance and how can queerness help us undo that?"  

    Amber Jamilla Musser, George Washington University

    "In this remarkable study, Amelia Jones critically examines the genealogy of the concepts of “queer”, “performance”, and “performativity”. The author mobilizes—in a non-hierarchical way—multiple sources, such as art history and pop culture, performance, gender, and postcolonial studies, as well as her individual experiences of queer and queer-related topics, seeking to question and problematize the dominance of Western-centrist and mostly white discourses around these concepts."

    Sasha Pevak, Critique d'art