Can Knowledge be (a) Performative? Performativity in the Studies of Science

The recent surge in popularity of the notions of performance and performativity provides an incentive for examining their productivity for contemporary models of knowledge production. Drawing upon a host of conceptions from performance studies, philosophy of language, literary theory, gender studies as well as the postconstructivist science and technology studies, the Author proposes that we investigate knowledge in terms of its performativity. The notion of knowledge as (a) performative is supposed to provide a certain supplement to the philosophical landscape of studying science and knowledge, largely shaped by a positivist approach, which models knowledge in terms of representation, and constructivism with its focus on ‘knowledge as social practice’. In its greatest part, the concept of knowledge as (a) performative draws upon postconstructivist studies of science and technology; yet, it also shares some important tenets with poststructuralism and other conceptions that are widely identified under the so-called performative turn. Altogether, the notion proposed is not intended to overrule the other visions of how science and knowledge work, neither does it pursue empirical adequacy. As such, the concept of knowledge as (a) performative is supposed to mark a simple, but a productive conceptual shift in the way we envision knowledge processes today: their goals, outcomes, mode of operation, criteria of assessment, but also complex relation to the world, including entanglement in relations of power.
Koltun, A. (2015.) Can Knowledge be (a) Performative? Performatvity in the Studies of Science. Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS.