Magnitudes of Performativity

Donald Trump in the Anthropo(s)cene

  • Teemu Paavolainen Tampere University
Keywords: Anthropocene, Capitalism, Climate change, Performativity, Theatricality


The article presents the Trump presidency and the human-driven geological epoch of the Anthropocene as two arguable extremes among current notions of ‘performativity’: (1) a traditionally vertical model based on individual action and antagonism – where ‘facts’ matter less than ‘making things great’; and (2) the more extended, horizontal human performance of things like global warming (“All the world’s a stage”). Drawing freely on George Lakoff and Timothy Morton, it is argued that these models differ fundamentally in ‘magnitude’: where the one is direct, singular, vertical, and fast, the other is systemic, plural, horizontal, and slow beyond human perception. With Judith Butler and Naomi Klein, it is also argued that to actually confront the twin crises at issue, we need to acknowledge the kind of ‘plural performativity’ – of repetition, norms, and dissimulation – that brought them into being in the first place.

Author Biography

Teemu Paavolainen, Tampere University

Teemu Paavolainen is a research fellow at the Centre for Practice as Research in Theatre, Tampere University. He is the author of two books with Palgrave Macmillan, Theatricality and Performativity: Writings on Texture From Plato’s Cave to Urban Activism (2018), and Theatre/Ecology/Cognition: Theorizing Performer-Object Interaction in Grotowski, Kantor, and Meyerhold (2012). Work on this article has been enabled by grants from the Finnish Cultural Foundation and, currently, the Kone Foundation, the latter for a three-year research project humbly entitled “Plural Performativity: Theatrical Models Against the Inversion of Western Thought” (2017–20).


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How to Cite
Paavolainen, T. (2019). Magnitudes of Performativity. Nordic Theatre Studies, 30(2), 78-98.
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