In Our Hands: An Ethics of Gestural Response-ability. Rebecca Schneider in conversation with Lucia Ruprecht


  • Rebecca Schneider Brown University
  • Lucia Ruprecht Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge



The following conversation aims to trace the role of gesture and gestural thinking in Rebecca Schneider’s work, and to tease out the specific gestural ethics which arises in her writings. In particular, Schneider thinks about the politics of citation and reiteration for an ethics of call and response that emerges in the gesture of the hail. Both predicated upon a fundamentally ethical relationality and susceptible to ideological investment, the hail epitomises the operations of the “both/and”—a logic of conjunction that structures and punctuates the history of thinking on gesture from the classic Brechtian tactic in which performance both replays and counters conditions of subjugation to Alexander Weheliye’s reclamation of this tactic for black and critical ethnic studies. The gesture of the hail will lead us, then, to the gesture of protest in the Black Lives Matter movement. The hands that are held up in the air both replay (and respond to) the standard pose of surrender in the face of police authority and call for a future that might be different. Schneider’s ethics of response-ability thus rethinks relationality as something that always already anticipates and perpetually reinaugurates possibilities for response.

Author Biographies

Rebecca Schneider, Brown University

Rebecca Schneider is Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. She is the author of The Explicit Body in Performance (1997), Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment (2011), and Theatre and History (2014), as well as editor and author of numerous anthologies, essays, and journal special issues. She lectures widely on matters touching inter(in)animation.

Lucia Ruprecht, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge

Lucia Ruprecht is an affiliated Lecturer at the Department of German and Dutch, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Emmanuel College. Her Dances of the Self in Heinrich von Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Heinrich Heine (2006) was awarded Special Citation of the de la Torre Bueno Prize. She has co-edited Performance and Performativity in German Cultural Studies (with Carolin Duttlinger and Andrew Webber, 2003), Cultural Pleasure (with Michael Minden, 2009) and New German Dance Studies (with Susan Manning, 2012). From 2013 to 2015, she was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Institute of Theatre Studies, Free University Berlin. She is currently completing the manuscript of a book entitled Gestural Imaginaries: Dance and the Culture of Gestures at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, under contract with Oxford University Press.


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How to Cite

Schneider, R., & Ruprecht, L. (2017). In Our Hands: An Ethics of Gestural Response-ability. Rebecca Schneider in conversation with Lucia Ruprecht. Performance Philosophy, 3(1), 108–125.



Special Section: Towards an Ethics of Gesture