Panel: How dare you? Acts of Deviance and Strategies of Discreditation
Stigma is a Greek word meaning a body mark, designed to expose something unusual and bad about the moral or physical status of a person. In the following paper, I will present a corporeal semiotic study of acts of performative discreditation by focusing on the use of what Erving Goffman calls stigma symbols, particularly the use of so called ‘badges of shame’, aimed as typically distinctive symbols to be worn by a specific group or an individual for the purpose of public humiliation or persecution. Of particular interest is the coded nature of these symbols, that is, the use of colour-coding to distinguish persecuted groups, the use of geometric symbols and graphic symbols to be worn by stigmatised individuals, the use of marking and branding on people’s skins, particularly the branding of alphanumerical symbols on individuals. The badge of shame is not only a visual aid in situations where normal and deviant meet, but an embodied language or a language of marked bodies, whose enactment have the performative effect of social rejection. The biopolitical dynamics here is not aimed as a Foucaultian disciplination through corporeal practices, but a performative act where individuals are rendered less than human, infra-human- where the performance of shame allows the individual to gain, in the eyes of the normalised audience, the status of an animal. The changing from man to ass, to animal, is thus a beastialising performance installed at the level of the body, and of a performative act that transforms the body from human to infrahuman, thus performing a dynamic of imbalance that intensifies the rhythms of power and domination.
- Nick Salazar-Sutil is a Chilean born academic and practitioner living in London. His work focuses on symbolic languages and code languages in performance, corporeal semiotics and cultural theory of symbolic languages (mathematics/ computer languages). He is the artistic director of Configur8, and Member of the Board of Directors of Performance Studies International.