Silke Felber

Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien

Email silke.felber[at]
Project Name Travelling Gestures
Publication Page
Field of research Theatre & Cultural Studies
Keywords performing politics I performing gender I contemporary theatre

Performing Gender in View of the Outbreak


What is my research about?

Combining theatre studies and discourse analysis, and using Austria as an example,my current research project deals with the question of how the gender imbalances evoked by COVID-19 are being commented on, legitimised or concealed by political leaders. The central hypothesis is that women have assumed a paradoxical (in)visibility within the staged crisis management of the Austrian Federal Government. On the one hand, women were clearly underrepresented in the press conferences held during the first lockdown (spring 2020) and in the accompanying reporting. On the other hand, stylized as “everyday heroines” and “system maintainers”, women played an important role within the discursive staging of the current health and economic crisis. Yet, this ostensible discursive appreciation of women goes hand in hand with a perfidious reproduction of paternalistic stereotypes that naturally link women to motherhood and (unpaid) care work. At the same time, according to the hypothesis, such strategies favour the staging of antitoxic masculinity and support the speakers involved in their attempt to free themselves from sexist tendencies. Conversely, the staging of the (male) political actors in the face of the outbreak is based on concepts of task-related competence and instrumentality and gives rise to figurations of the Athlete, the Father, the Commander-in-chief and the Redeemer, through which hegemonic male identity can be performatively created in the context of the crisis and inscribed in the symbolic order.

How will my project improve the world?
“Performing Gender in View of the Outbreak” responds to the alarming lack of gender-specific analyses within the research of pandemics or the ways politics deal with them. The project touches on the central socio-political discourses of our time and places them in a historical and global context

How did I get where I am now?
Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity. And passion.