Introduction to Performing Refusal/Refusing to Perform

Lilian G. Mengesha*, Lakshmi Padmanabhan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This introduction outlines an aesthetic of refusal as it emerges from instances of racialized exhaustion. Described as an aesthetics of minoritarian inaction and non-reproductivity, refusal challenges the centrality of action and repetition as the central tenets of political performance. Instead, the two valences of performing refusal/refusing to perform name an ethics of relation under racial capitalism, negating the dialectic of assimilation or resistance that shape minoritarian political performance, in favor of tactics such as opacity, imperceptibility, and obscurity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalWomen and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatigue
  • abstraction
  • apathy
  • interiority
  • minoritarian aesthetics
  • obscurity
  • opacity
  • racialization
  • refusal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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