Performance, with Kareem Khubchandani

Uncommon Sense

15-09-2023 • 53分

From Shakespeare to RuPaul, we all love a performance. But what exactly is it? What are its boundaries, its powers, its potential, its stakes? Kareem Khubchandani, who also performs as LaWhore Vagistan – “everyone's favourite desi drag queen aunty” – joins Uncommon Sense to unpack the latest thinking on refusal, repetition and more. And to discuss “Ishtyle”, Kareem’s ethnography of gay Indian nightlife in Chicago and Bangalore, which attends to desire and fun in the lives of global Indian workers too often stereotyped as cogs in the wheels of globalisation.

Kareem also reflects on the particular value of queer nightlife, and celebrates how drag kings skilfully unmask what might be the ultimate performance: heteromasculinity. We also ask: what do thinkers like Bourdieu and Foucault reveal about performance? Why is there still a way to go in our understanding of drag and how might decolonising it serve us all? Plus: why calling something “performative” is actually not about calling things “fake”? In fact, performance can make things “real”…

With reflection on Judith Butler, “Paris is Burning”, “RuPaul's Drag Race” and clubbing in Sydney and Tokyo.

Guest: Kareem Khubchandani
Hosts: Rosie Hancock, Alexis Hieu Truong
Executive Producer: Alice Bloch
Sound Engineer: David Crackles
Music: Joe Gardner
Artwork: Erin Aniker

Find more about Uncommon Sense at The Sociological Review.

Episode Resources

From The Sociological Review

By Kareem Khubchandani

Further reading and viewing

  • “Introduction to Performing Refusal/Refusing to Perform” – Lilian G. Mengesha, Lakshmi Padmanabhan
  • “Everynight Life” – Celeste Fraser Delgado, José Esteban Muñoz (editors)
  • “Cruising Utopia” – José Esteban Muñoz
  • “Gender Trouble” – Judith Butler
  • “Camera Lucida” – Roland Barthes
  • “Paris is Burning” (film) – Jennie Livingstone

Read more about the work of Dhiren Borisa, Saidiya V Hartman, D. Soyini Madison and Joshua Chambers-Letson; as well as Pierre Bourdieu, Erving Goffman, Mikhail Bakhtin and Michel Foucault.