Interview with Rossana Reguillo (2011)
Rossana Reguillo Cruz is a professor and researcher in the Departamento de Estudios Sociales, ITESO (Department of Social Studies) at Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara. She is a member of the National System of Researchers (level III) and the Mexican Academy of Sciences. Reguillo has a PhD in Social Sciences from the CIESAS and is the holder of the Andrés Bello Chair (Cátedra Andrés Bello) at NYU (2011). She has been visiting professor at various universities in the US and Latin America. Her research topics revolve around urban cultures, daily life and subjectivity, social construction of fear, and youth violence and drug trafficking. Culturas Juveniles. Formas Políticas del Desencanto (Siglo XXI 2012) is one of her recent books.X
Diana Taylor: Thanks so much for being here with us. Could you give me a little information, just your title, where you are from, what city?
Rossana Reguillo: Okay, sure. I am Rossana Reguillo. I hold a PhD in Social Sciences, specializing in Social Anthropology, and I am a researcher and professor in the Department of Sociocultural Studies at ITESO in Guadalajara.
Diana: Now, I know you work a lot with the ideas, the methodologies of performance studies, although you, yourself, might not refer to it that way. may not call it such. So, can you explain a little about how you understand performance studies, how you utilize methodologies or questions that came from there?
Rossana: Sure. [Jesús] Martín Barbero’s work, Renato Ortiz’s study, but fundamentally articulating this perspective, what I did was develop a group of methodological schemes. Sometimes an obsession of social scientists, very reprehensible and with good reason, it is our methodological obsession to make everything rigorous, that the category is expressed well, et cetera, et cetera. But let’s say, to be very artificial, that the schemes that I was able to suggest were precisely about how to understand social action, social practices linked to a question or a social mobilization through the decomposition or deconstruction of its aesthetic, ethical components; the use of language, the use of the body, turned into a nodal point. That made me look to other types of literature, et cetera.
And so it seems to me that the tremendous challenge we have before us today, of what we could call “cultural studies in performance” or “dramaturgical action of political persuasion” has to do with exactly how to reincorporate the empirical dimensions that one constructs while doing research towards a theoretical reformulation.
“[Performance is] like a ghost, a little ghost running around social science, making mischief... it is that elf that suddenly pops up and that we can now clearly see, with the playful capacity of social movements, with the capacity to laugh at power, with the capacity of imagination that social movements possess.”
Rossana: Sure. Look, I observe it in two territories. In one, more colloquial and informal, that relates to when one when one hears someone speak at a conference and they suddenly say, “la performance... no, no, no! el performance.” This, it seems to me, has to do with what I just said a little while ago: in the realm of the colloquial, there is a certain discomfort, a certain embarrassment in the face of what the incorporation of performance studies as a very serious dimension would imply for the so-called “formal” sciences, as they are called in the social sciences. I think they are stammers that have more to do with discomfort rather than with an incorporated reflective stance. But in the other territory, one that is more formal and more within the field of study, I think that the feminine and masculine are more linked to the near impossibility, I would say, of epistemological character, to isolate what is so complex using the article. Or, I think that—I don’t know if in English it is “the performance studies"–but I think what the article does, in the case of Spanish, the “la” or the “el,” is precisely to provide a unique dimension to something that is extremely complex, and we turn to one and then turn to the other without ever resolving the underlying contradiction. I don’t think it is a gender issue; I believe that it alludes to a much more complex problem and has to do with, for example—and perhaps this helps me a bit in explaining what I am trying to say
Diana: Thanks, Rossana.
Rossana: You’re welcome. On the contrary, thanks to you.
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