front cover of The Athenian Adonia in Context
The Athenian Adonia in Context
The Adonis Festival as Cultural Practice
Laurialan Reitzammer
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018
Ancient sources and modern scholars have often represented the Athenian festival of Adonis as a marginal and faintly ridiculous private women's ritual. Seeds were planted each year in pots and, once sprouted, carried to the rooftops, where women lamented the death of Aphrodite's youthful consort Adonis. Laurialan Reitzammer resourcefully examines a wide array of surviving evidence about the Adonia, arguing for its symbolic importance in fifth- and fourth-century Athenian culture as an occasion for gendered commentary on mainstream Athenian practices.

Reitzammer reveals correlations of the Adonia to Athenian wedding rituals and civic funeral oration and provides illuminating evidence that the festival was a significant cultural template for such diverse works as Aristophanes' drama Lysistrata and Plato's dialogue Phaedrus. Her fresh approach offers a timely contribution to studies of the ways gender and sexuality intersect with religion and ritual in ancient Greece.
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Aztecs, Moors, and Christians
Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain
By Max Harris
University of Texas Press, 2000

In villages and towns across Spain and its former New World colonies, local performers stage mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors or Aztecs that range from brief sword dances to massive street theatre lasting several days. The festival tradition officially celebrates the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies, yet this does not explain its persistence for more than five hundred years nor its widespread diffusion.

In this insightful book, Max Harris seeks to understand Mexicans' "puzzling and enduring passion" for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances' roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been a part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then using James Scott's distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts," he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, they remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.

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Blood Brothers and Peace Pipes
Performing the Wild West in German Festivals
A. Dana Weber
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
"Nineteenth-century writer Karl May wrote novels about a fictionalized American Wild West that count among the most popular books of German literature to this day. His stories left an imprint on German culture, resulting in a variety of Wild West festivals featuring Native Americans and frontier settlers. These Karl May festivals are hosted widely throughout German-speaking countries today.
This book, based on years of fieldwork observing and studying the festivals, plays, events, and groups that comprise this subculture, addresses a larger, timely issue: cultural transfer and appropriations. Are Germans dressing up in American Indian costumes paying tribute or offending the cultures they are representing? Avoiding simplistic answers, A. Dana Weber considers the complexity of cultural enactments as they relate both to the distinctly German phenomenon as well as to larger questions of cultural representations in American and European live performance traditions."
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Carnival and Other Christian Festivals
Folk Theology and Folk Performance
By Max Harris
University of Texas Press, 2003

With a riotous mix of saints and devils, street theater and dancing, and music and fireworks, Christian festivals are some of the most lively and colorful spectacles that occur in Spain and its former European and American possessions. That these folk celebrations, with roots reaching back to medieval times, remain vibrant in the high-tech culture of the twenty-first century strongly suggests that they also provide an indispensable vehicle for expressing hopes, fears, and desires that people can articulate in no other way.

In this book, Max Harris explores and develops principles for understanding the folk theology underlying patronal saints' day festivals, feasts of Corpus Christi, and Carnivals through a series of vivid, first-hand accounts of these festivities throughout Spain and in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad, Bolivia, and Belgium. Paying close attention to the signs encoded in folk performances, he finds in these festivals a folk theology of social justice that—however obscured by official rhetoric, by distracting theories of archaic origin, or by the performers' own need to mask their resistance to authority—is often in articulate and complex dialogue with the power structures that surround it. This discovery sheds important new light on the meanings of religious festivals celebrated from Belgium to Peru and on the sophisticated theatrical performances they embody.

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Choreographing Mexico
Festive Performances and Dancing Histories of a Nation
Manuel R. Cuellar
University of Texas Press, 2022

2023 de la Torre Bueno® First Book Award, Dance Studies Association

The impact of folkloric dance and performance on Mexican cultural politics and national identity.


The years between 1910 and 1940 were formative for Mexico, with the ouster of Porfirio Díaz, the subsequent revolution, and the creation of the new state. Amid the upheaval, Mexican dance emerged as a key arena of contestation regarding what it meant to be Mexican. Through an analysis of written, photographic, choreographic, and cinematographic renderings of a festive Mexico, Choreographing Mexico examines how bodies in motion both performed and critiqued the nation.

Manuel Cuellar details the integration of Indigenous and regional dance styles into centennial celebrations, civic festivals, and popular films. Much of the time, this was a top-down affair, with cultural elites seeking to legitimate a hegemonic national character by incorporating traces of indigeneity. Yet dancers also used their moving bodies to challenge the official image of a Mexico full of manly vigor and free from racial and ethnic divisions. At home and abroad, dancers made nuanced articulations of female, Indigenous, Black, and even queer renditions of the nation. Cuellar reminds us of the ongoing political significance of movement and embodied experience, as folklórico maintains an important and still-contested place in Mexican and Mexican American identity today.

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City and Spectacle in Medieval Europe
Barbara Hanawalt
University of Minnesota Press, 1994

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Clambake
A History and Celebration of an American Tradition
Katherine D. Neustadt
University of Massachusetts Press, 1992
An appreciative examination of the New England clambake, Neustadt divides her study into three parts: historical (social, economic, political, regional, and cultural) influences on the clambake; a close focus on the Allen's Neck clambake as a cultural phenomena in its own right; and a critical examination of the central elements of the clambaking tradition--food, ritual, and festival.

The author views the clambake as a unique American folk tradition with interesting connections and rich resonances with other aspects of American culture and history.
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The Cultures of Celebrations
Edited by Ray B. Browne and Michael T. Marsden
University of Wisconsin Press, 1994
    Popular entertainments are windows into the attitudes and values of the people who participate in them. They both reflect and affect society as they celebrate an aspect of life. The fifteen essays in this collection demonstrate various aspects of celebrations of cultures and the importance they have in those cultures.
    Topics include: feminine processions and masculine parades; political activism and quietism in Shi’a rituals; civic socializing in Puritan New England; the circus and American culture; the Wild West shows; beauty pageants; theme parks; Bourbon Street, New Orleans; and Stonehenge.
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Drama, Play, and Game
English Festive Culture in the Medieval and Early Modern Period
Lawrence M. Clopper
University of Chicago Press, 2001
How was it possible for drama, especially biblical representations, to appear in the Christian West given the church's condemnation of the theatrum of the ancient world?In a book with radical implications for the study of medieval literature, Lawrence Clopper resolves this perplexing question.

Drama, Play, and Game demonstrates that the theatrum repudiated by medieval clerics was not "theater" as we understand the term today. Clopper contends that critics have misrepresented Western stage history because they have assumed that theatrum designates a place where drama is performed. While theatrum was thought of as a site of spectacle during the Middle Ages, the term was more closely connected with immodest behavior and lurid forms of festive culture. Clerics were not opposed to liturgical representations in churches, but they strove ardently to suppress May games, ludi, festivals, and liturgical parodies. Medieval drama, then, stemmed from a more vernacular tradition than previously acknowledged-one developed by England's laity outside the boundaries of clerical rule.

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Feasts
Archaeological and Ethnographic Pespectives on Food, Politics, and Power
Michael Dietler
University of Alabama Press, 2010

From the ancient Near East to modern-day North America, communal consumption of food and drink punctuates the rhythms of human societies. Feasts serve many social purposes, establishing alliances for war and marriage, mobilizing labor, creating political power and economic advantages, and redistributing wealth. In this collection of fifteen essays, archaeologists and ethnographers explore the material record of food and its consumption as social practice. They examine the locations of roasting pits, hearths, and refuse deposits, or the presence of special decorative ceramics, and infer ways in which feasting traditions reveal social structures of lineage, clan, moiety, and polity.

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Festivals and the French Revolution
Mona Ozouf
Harvard University Press, 1988

Festivals and the French Revolution—the subject conjures up visions of goddesses of Liberty, strange celebrations of Reason, and the oddly pretentious cult of the Supreme Being. Every history of the period includes some mention of festivals, although most historians have been content either to ridicule them as ineffectual or to bemoan them as repugnant examples of a sterile, official culture. Mona Ozouf shows us that they were much more than bizarre marginalia to the revolutionary process. Festivals offer critical insights into the meaning of the French Revolution; they show a society in the process of creating itself anew.

Historians have recognized the importance of the revolutionary festival as a symbol of the Revolution. But they have differed widely in their interpretations of what that symbol meant and have considered the festivals as diverse as the rival political groups that conceived and organized them. Against this older vision, Ozouf argues for the fundamental coherence and profound unity of the festival as both event and register of reference and attitude. By comparing the most ideologically opposed festivals (those of Reason and the Supreme Being, for instance), she shows that they clearly share a common aim, which finds expression in a mutual ceremonial and symbolic vocabulary. Through a brilliant discussion of the construction, ordering, and conduct of the festival Ozouf demonstrates how the continuity of the images, allegories, ceremonials, and explicit functions can be seen as the Revolution’s own commentary on itself.

A second and important aim of this book is to show that this system of festivals, often seen as destructive, was an immensely creative force. The festival was the mirror in which the Revolution chose to see itself and the pedagogical tool by which it hoped to educate future generations, Far from being a failure, it embodied, socialized, and made sacred a new set of values based on the family, the nation, and mankind—the values of a modern, secular, liberal world.

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Festivals of Attica
An Archaeological Commentary
Erika Simon
University of Wisconsin Press, 2002

The festivals of the Athenian sacred calendar constitute a vital key to classical Greek culture and religion.  Erika Simon sets out here to explicate those complex and often obscure festivals.  By careful marshaling of a variety of proofs from literary, historical, and archaeological sources, she is able to justify some startling conclusions and achieve a comprehensive and truly original synthesis that clarifies, as never before, the probable origins and meanings of the Attic cults.

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Festivals of Freedom
Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808-1915
Mitch Kachun
University of Massachusetts Press, 2003
With the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1808, many African Americans began calling for "a day of publick thanksgiving" to commemorate this important step toward freedom. During the ensuing century, black leaders built on this foundation and constructed a distinctive and vibrant tradition through their celebrations of the end of slavery in New York State, the British West Indies, and eventually the United States as a whole. In this revealing study, Mitch Kachun explores the multiple functions and contested meanings surrounding African American emancipation celebrations from the abolition of the slave trade to the fiftieth anniversary of U.S. emancipation.

Excluded from July Fourth and other American nationalist rituals for most of this period, black activists used these festivals of freedom to encourage community building and race uplift. Kachun demonstrates that, even as these annual rituals helped define African Americans as a people by fostering a sense of shared history, heritage, and identity, they were also sites of ambiguity and conflict. Freedom celebrations served as occasions for debate over black representations in the public sphere, struggles for group leadership, and contests over collective memory and its meaning.

Based on extensive research in African American newspapers and oration texts, this book retraces a vital if often overlooked tradition in African American political culture and addresses important issues about black participation in the public sphere. By illuminating the origins of black Americans' public commemorations, it also helps explain why there have been increasing calls in recent years to make the "Juneteenth" observance of emancipation an American—not just an African American—day of commemoration.
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Festive Devils of the Americas
Edited by Milla Cozart Riggio, Angela Marino, and Paolo Vignolo
Seagull Books, 2015
The devil is a defiant, nefarious figure, the emblem of evil, and harbinger of the damned. However, the festive devil—the devil that dances—turns the most hideous acts into playful transgressions. Festive Devils of the Americas is the first volume to present a transnational and performance-centered approach to this fascinating, feared, and revered character of fiestas, street festivals, and carnivals in North, Central, and South America. As produced and performed in both rural and urban communities and among neighborhood groups and councils, festive devils challenge the principles of colonialism and nation-states reliant on the straight and narrow opposition between good and evil, black and white, and us and them.

Each section of this volume opens with regional maps ranging from the Andes, Afro-Atlantic, and Caribbean, to Central and North America. However, festive devils defy geographical as well as moral boundaries. From Brazil’s Candomblé to New Mexico’s dance halls, festive devils and their stories sustain and transform ancestral memory, recast historical narratives, and present political, social, and cultural alternatives in many guises. Within economic, political, and religious cross-currents, these paradoxical figures affirm the spirit of community within the framework of subversion and inversion found at the heart of the festival world.
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Fêting the Queen
Civic Entertainments and the Elizabethan Progress
John M Adrian
University of Massachusetts Press, 2021
In a 1572 visit to Warwick, Queen Elizabeth looked out the window of her lodgings and saw local people dancing in the courtyard, a seemingly spontaneous performance meant to entertain her. During her travels, she was treated to fireworks, theatrical performances, and lavish banquets. Reconstructing the formal and informal events that took place throughout Elizabeth's progress visits, events rich in pageantry and ceremony, John M. Adrian demonstrates how communities communicated their character, as well as their financial and political needs, to noble guests.

While previous scholars have studied Elizabeth I and her visits to the homes of influential courtiers, Fêting the Queen places a new emphasis on the civic communities that hosted the monarch and their efforts to secure much needed support. Case studies of the cities of Oxford, Canterbury, Sandwich, Bristol, Worcester, and Norwich focus on the concepts of hospitality and space—including the intimate details of the built environment.
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Gates of Prayer
Shaarei Tefila - Hebrew-opening: The New Union Prayerbook for Weekdays, Sabbaths and Festivals
Chaim Stern
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, while expressing that tradition within the context of Reform Judaism, this prayerbook contains a variety of services for weekdays, Shabbat and festivals, Israeli Independence Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Tisha B'Av.  It also includes special readings, meditations and 40 pages of songs complete with transliterations.
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Greetings, Pushkin!
Stalinist Cultural Politics and the Russian National Bard
Jonathan Brooks Platt
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016
In 1937, the Soviet Union mounted a national celebration commemorating the centenary of poet Alexander Pushkin’s death. Though already a beloved national literary figure, the scale and feverish pitch of the Pushkin festival was unprecedented. Greetings, Pushkin! presents the first in-depth study of this historic event and follows its manifestations in art, literature, popular culture, education, and politics, while also examining its philosophical underpinnings.
            Jonathan Brooks Platt looks deeply into the motivations behind the Soviet glorification of a long-dead poet—seemingly at odds with the October Revolution’s radical break with the past. He views the Pushkin celebration as a conjunction of two opposing approaches to time and modernity: monumentalism, which points to specific moments and individuals as the origin point for cultural narratives, and eschatology, which glorifies ruptures in the chain of art or thought and the destruction of canons.
            In the midst of the Great Purge, the Pushkin jubilee was a critical element in the drive toward a nationalist discourse that attempted to unify and subsume the disparate elements of the Soviet Union, supporting the move to “socialism in one country.”
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front cover of In Tune With The World
In Tune With The World
Josef Pieper
St. Augustine's Press, 1999

In this stimulating and still-timely study, Josef Pieper takes up a theme of paramount importance to his thinking – that festivals belong by rights among the great topics of philosophical discussion. As he develops his theory of festivity, the modern age comes under close and painful scrutiny. It is obvious that we no longer know what festivity is, namely, the celebration of existence under various symbols

Pieper exposes the pseudo-festivals, in their harmless and their sinister forms: traditional feasts contaminated by commercialism; artificial holidays created in the interest of merchandisers; holidays by coercion, decreed by dictators the world over; festivals as military demonstrations; holidays empty of significance. And lastly we are given the apocalyptic vision of a nihilistic world which would seek its release not in festivities but in destruction.

Formulated with Pieper's customary clarity and elegance, enhanced by brilliantly chosen quotations, this is an illuminating contribution to the understanding of traditional and contemporary experience.

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Martial Spectacles of the Ming Court
David M. Robinson
Harvard University Press, 2013
Like most empires, the Ming court sponsored grand displays of dynastic strength and military prowess. Covering the first two centuries of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Martial Spectacles of the Ming Court explores how the royal hunt, polo matches, archery contests, equestrian demonstrations, and the imperial menagerie were represented in poetry, prose, and portraiture. This study reveals that martial spectacles were highly charged sites of contestation, where Ming emperors and senior court ministers staked claims about rulership, ruler-minister relations, and the role of the military in the polity. Simultaneously colorful entertainment, prestigious social events, and statements of power, martial spectacles were intended to make manifest the ruler’s personal generosity, keen discernment, and respect for family tradition. They were, however, subject to competing interpretations that were often beyond the emperor’s control or even knowledge. By situating Ming martial spectacles in the wider context of Eurasia, David Robinson brings to light the commensurability of the Ming court with both the Mongols and Manchus but more broadly with other early modern courts such as the Timurids, the Mughals, and the Ottomans.
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front cover of Mishkan T'filah Weekdays and Festivals, Non-transliterated
Mishkan T'filah Weekdays and Festivals, Non-transliterated
A Reform Siddur
Rabbi Elyse D. Frishman
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Including services for weekdays and festivals as well as other occasions of public worship, and texts for more than a hundred songs, Mishkan T’filah reflects the full diversity of our Movement. This new Siddur includes: • Broad selection of readings, including beloved passages from our Reform liturgical tradition and great poetic writings from throughout Jewish history • Faithful, elegant translations • Contemporary, gender-inclusive English • Theological and stylistic diversity • Extensive commentaries, source notes and usage guides • More than 100 contemporary and traditional song texts • Choice of transliterated and non-transliterated editions • Innovative design in two-page spreads• Two-color printing to enhance usability
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Pachangas
Borderlands Music, U.S. Politics, and Transnational Marketing
By Margaret E. Dorsey
University of Texas Press, 2006

A uniquely Tejano version of the old-fashioned political barbeque, the traditional South Texas pachanga allowed politicians to connect with voters in a relaxed setting where all could enjoy live music and abundant food and drink along with political speeches and dealmaking. Today's pachanga still combines politics, music, and votes—along with a powerful new element. Corporate sponsorships have transformed the pachanga into a major marketing event, replete with celebrity performers and product giveaways, which can be recorded and broadcast on TV or radio to vastly increase the reach of the political—and the commercial—messages.

This book explores the growing convergence of politics, transnational marketing, and borderlands music in the South Texas pachanga. Anthropologist Margaret Dorsey has observed some one hundred pachangas and interviewed promoters, politicians, artists, and local people. She investigates how candidates and corporations market their products to Hispanic consumers, as well as how the use of traditional music for marketing is altering traditional forms such as the corrido. Her multifaceted study also shows clearly that the lines of influence run both ways—while corporate culture is transforming the traditions of the border, Tejano voters/consumers only respond to marketing appeals (whether for politicians or products) that resonate with their values and the realities of their lives. Far from being an example of how transnational marketing homogenizes culture, the pachanga demonstrates that local cultures can exert an equally strong influence on multinational corporations.

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Palestinian Rituals of Identity
The Prophet Moses Festival in Jerusalem, 1850-1948
Awad Halabi
University of Texas Press, 2023

Members of Palestine’s Muslim community have long honored al-Nabi Musa, or the Prophet Moses. Since the thirteenth century, they have celebrated at a shrine near Jericho believed to be the location of Moses’s tomb; in the mid-nineteenth century, they organized a civic festival in Jerusalem to honor this prophet. Considered one of the most important occasions for Muslim pilgrims in Palestine, the Prophet Moses festival yearly attracted thousands of people who assembled to pray, conduct mystical forms of worship, and hold folk celebrations.

Palestinian Rituals of Identity takes an innovative approach to the study of Palestine’s modern history by focusing on the Prophet Moses festival from the late Ottoman period through the era of British rule. Halabi explores how the festival served as an arena of competing discourses, with various social groups attempting to control its symbols. Tackling questions about modernity, colonialism, gender relations, and identity, Halabi recounts how peasants, Bedouins, rural women, and Sufis sought to influence the festival even as Ottoman authorities, British colonists, Muslim clerics, and Palestinian national leaders did the same. Drawing on extensive research in Arabic newspapers and Islamic and colonial archives, Halabi reveals how the festival has encapsulated Palestinians’ responses to modernity, colonialism, and the nation’s growing national identity.

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Pathways of Memory and Power
Ethnography and History among an Andean People
Thomas A. Abercrombie
University of Wisconsin Press, 1998
    Pathways of Memory and Power crosses the disciplinary boundary where anthropology and history meet, exploring the cultural frontier of the colonial and postcolonial Andes. Thomas A. Abercrombie uses his fieldwork in the Aymara community of Santa Barbara de Culta, Bolivia, as a starting point for his ambitious examination of the relations between European forms of historical consciousness and indigenous Andean ways of understanding the past. Writing in an inviting first-person narrative style, Abercrombie confronts the ethics of fieldwork by comparing ethnographic experience to the power-laden contexts that produce historical sources.
    Making clear the early and deep intermingling of practices and world views among Spaniards and Andeans, Christians and non-Christians, Abercrombie critiques both the romanticist tendency to regard Andean culture as still separate from and resistant to European influences, and the melodramatic view that all indigenous practices have been obliterated by colonial and national elites. He challenges prejudices that, from colonial days to the present, have seen Andean historical knowledge only in mythic narratives or narratives of personal experience. Bringing an ethnographer’s approach to historiography, he shows how complex Andean rituals that hybridize European and indigenous traditions—such as libation dedications and llama sacrifices held on saints’ day festivals—are in fact potent evidence of social memory in the community.
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Pole Raising and Speech Making
Modalities of Swedish American Summer Celebration
Jennifer Eastman Attebery
Utah State University Press, 2015

In Pole Raising and Speech Making, author Jennifer Eastman Attebery focuses on the beginnings of the traditional Scandinavian Midsummer celebration and the surrounding spring-to-summer seasonal festivities in the Rocky Mountain West during the height of Swedish immigration to the area—1880–1917.

Combining research in folkloristics and history, Attebery explores various ways that immigrants blended traditional Swedish Midsummer-related celebrations with local civic celebrations of American Independence Day on July 4 and the Mormons’ Pioneer Day on July 24. Functioning as multimodal observances with multiple meanings, these holidays represent and reconsider ethnicity and panethnicity, sacred and secular relationships, and the rural and the urban, demonstrating how flexible and complex traditional celebrations can be.

Providing a wealth of detail and information surrounding little-studied celebrations and valuable archival and published primary sources—diaries, letters, speeches, newspaper reports, and images—Pole Raising and Speech Making is proof that non-English immigrant culture must be included when discussing “American” culture. It will be of interest to scholars and graduate students in ethnic studies, folklore, ritual and festival studies, and Scandinavian American cultural history.


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The Politics of Mirth
Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes
Leah S. Marcus
University of Chicago Press, 1987
"Leah Marcus's The Politics of Mirth: Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes is a fascinating study of why James and Charles promoted some types of rural sport and festival and of how certain literary texts participated in promoting or critiquing royal policy. . . . Marcus provocatively links texts not often studied in conjunction with one another, and she provides strong and detailed readings of those texts."—Jean E. Howard
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Public Performances
Studies in the Carnivalesque and Ritualesque
Jack Santino
Utah State University Press, 2024

Public Performances offers a deep and wide-ranging exploration of relationships among genres of public performance and of the underlying political motivations they share. Illustrating the connections among three themes—the political, the carnivalesque, and the ritualesque—this volume provides rich and comprehensive insight into public performance as an assertion of political power.

Contributors consider how public genres of performance express not only celebration but also dissent, grief, and remembrance; examine the permeability of the boundaries between genres; and analyze the approval or regulation of such events by municipalities and other institutions. Where the particular use of public space is not sanctioned or where that use meets with hostility from institutions or represents a critique of them, performers are effectively reclaiming public space to make public statements on their own terms—an act of popular sovereignty.

Through these concepts, Public Performances distinguishes the sometimes overlapping dimensions of public symbolic display. Carnival, and thus the carnivalesque, is understood to possess tacit social permission for unconventional or even deviant performance, on the grounds that normal social order will resume when the performance concludes. Ritual, and the ritualesque, leverages a deeper symbolic sensibility, one believed—or at least intended—by the participants to effect transformative, longer-term change.

Contributors: Roger D. Abrahams, John Borgonovo, Laurent Sébastien Fournier, Lisa Gilman, Barbara Graham, David Harnish, Samuel Kinser, Scott Magelssen, Elena Martinez, Pamela Moro, Beverly J. Stoeltje, Daniel Wojcik, Dorothy L. Zinn

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Rituals in Slavic Pre-Christian Religion
Festivals, Banqueting, and Divination
Juan Antonio Álvarez-Pedrosa
Arc Humanities Press, 2023
The authors comprehensively analyze all the available information regarding the ritual practices of Slavic pre-Christian religion that can be found in written medieval texts. After investigating every kind of reference to such practices, they offer a reconstruction of Slavic pre-Christian religion on the basis of these medieval testimonies. In doing so, they overcome the challenges presented by the fact that all of these sources are indirect, since the Slavs did not acquire literacy until they became Christians. Thus the writers of these texts mostly professed a monotheistic religion, being Christians and in some cases Muslims. The picture that they offer is biased and determined by their own faith. The present analysis innovatively combines testimonies from every Slavic area (Eastern, Western, and Southern), showing their mutual correspondences and emphasizing the relationship between the Slavic pre-Christian religion and its Indo-European roots.
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Rituals of Respect
The Secret of Survival in the High Peruvian Andes
By Inge Bolin
University of Texas Press, 1998

"In the remoteness of their mountain retreat, the herders of Chillihuani, Peru, recognize that respect for others is the central and most significant element of all thought and action," observes Inge Bolin. "Without respect, no society, no civilization, can flourish for long. Without respect, humanity is doomed and so is the earth, sustainer of all life."

In this beautifully written ethnography, Bolin describes the rituals of respect that maintain harmonious relations among people, the natural world, and the realm of the gods in an isolated Andean community of llama and alpaca herders that reaches up to 16,500 feet. Bolin was the first foreigner to visit Chillihuani, and she was permitted to participate in private family rituals, as well as public ceremonies. In turn, she allows the villagers to explain the meaning of their rituals in their own words.

From these first-hand experiences, Bolin offers an intimate portrait of an annual ritual cycle that dates back to Inca and pre-Inca times, including the ancient Pukllay; weddings; the Fiesta de Santiago, with its horse races on the top of the world; and Peru's Independence Day, when the Rituals of Respect for elders and young people alike are carried out within male and female hierarchies reminiscent of Inca times.

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The Saint-Napoleon
Sudhir Hazareesingh
Harvard University Press, 2004

In 1852, President Louis Napoleon of France declared that August 15--Napoleon Bonaparte's birthday--would be celebrated as France's national day. Leading up to the creation of the Second Empire, this was the first in a series of attempts to "Bonapartize" his regime and strengthen its popular legitimacy. Across France, public institutions sought to draw local citizens together to celebrate civic ideals of unity, order, and patriotism. But the new sense of French togetherness was fraught with tensions.

Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence, Sudhir Hazareesingh vividly reconstructs the symbolic richness and political complexity of the Saint-Napoleon festivities in a work that opens up broader questions about the nature of the French state, unity and lines of fracture in society, changing boundaries between public and private spheres, and the role of myth and memory in constructing nationhood. The state's Bonapartist identity was at times vigorously contested by local social, political, and religious groups. In various regions, people used the national day to celebrate their own communities and to honor their hometown veterans; but elsewhere, the revival of republican sentiment clashed sharply with imperial attitudes.

Sophisticated and gracefully written, this book offers rich insights into modern French history and culture.

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Shaping Society through Dance
Mestizo Ritual Performance in the Peruvian Andes
Zoila S. Mendoza
University of Chicago Press, 2000
During the patron saint fiesta in the Andean town of San Jerónimo, Peru, crowds gather at sunset in the town square, eagerly awaiting the entrance of the colorful dance troupes, or comparsas. With their masks, music, and surprising interpretations of contemporary events, the comparsas of the Cusco region are the focus of this multifaceted work. At the crossroads of folklore and ritual, mass media and local preferences, and regional and national identity, the comparsas—recorded here on VHS, DVD, and compact disc—have become a powerful way for the local people to make sense of their place in Peru and in the world. As Zoila Mendoza shows, they do more than reflect societal changes, they actively transform society.

In this fluid world, she argues, racial and ethnic identities are shaped more by notions of what is decent, elegant, and modern rather than by skin color or status. As the different troupes vie for the townspeople's recognition as the most "authentic" group, these notions are challenged and reworked. A fascinating look at a rich tradition, this innovative work is also a compelling example of the critical anthropology of performance.
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The Silver Cradle
Las Posadas, Los Pastores, and Other Mexican American Traditions
By Julia Nott Waugh
University of Texas Press, 1955

Originally published in 1955, The Silver Cradle is the story of a year in the life of the Mexican American people of San Antonio, Texas. During the 1950s, Julia Nott Waugh recorded the performances of such seasonal and religious traditions as Las Posadas, Los Pastores, Las Calaveras, the Blessing of the Animals, the liturgical observances of Holy Week, and festivities of el diez y seis de septiembre (Mexican Independence Day), among others.

Although years have passed and many of the details of observances have changed, the festival calendar and the joy and sincerity of the Mexican American people in honoring its customs and obligations have not disappeared. Now, in fact, a much wider population shares and appreciates the pageantry preserved for us by people like Graciana Reyes, in whose prized silver cradle the Christ Child slept every year at Christmas, and like Doroteo Domínguez, whose annual devotion to presenting a thousand-year-old pastoral epic in his back yard was legendary.

Waugh has done much more than just open a window onto a charming past. She has captured for us one of the true gifts of our Mexican American heritage—the willingness to ritually celebrate the passage of time and to embellish the occasions with sensitivity and fervor. This book will appeal to the general reader as well as to those interested in folk traditions and Mexican American culture.

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Southern Heritage on Display
Public Ritual and Ethnic Diversity within Southern Regionalism
Edited by Celeste Ray
University of Alabama Press, 2002
How ritualized public ceremonies affirm or challenge cultural identities associated with the American South

W. J. Cash's 1941 observation that “there are many Souths and many cultural traditions among them” is certainly validated by this book. Although the Civil War and its “lost cause” tradition continues to serve as a cultural root paradigm in celebrations, both uniting and dividing loyalties, southerners also embrace a panoply of public rituals—parades, cook-offs, kinship homecomings, church assemblies, music spectacles, and material culture exhibitions—that affirm other identities. From the Appalachian uplands to the Mississippi Delta, from Kentucky bluegrass to Carolina piedmont, southerners celebrate in festivals that showcase their diverse cultural backgrounds and their mythic beliefs about themselves.
 
The ten essays of this cohesive, interdisciplinary collection present event-centered research from various fields of study—anthropology, geography, history, and literature—to establish a rich, complex picture of the stereotypically “Solid South.” Topics include the Mardi Gras Indian song cycle as a means of expressing African-American identity in New Orleans; powwow performances and Native American traditions in southeast North Carolina; religious healings in southern Appalachian communities; Mexican Independence Day festivals in central Florida; and, in eastern Tennessee, bonding ceremonies of melungeons who share Indian, Scots Irish, Mediterranean, and African ancestry. Seen together, these public heritage displays reveal a rich “creole” of cultures that have always been a part of southern life and that continue to affirm a flourishing regionalism.
This book will be valuable to students and scholars of cultural anthropology, American studies, and southern history; academic and public libraries; and general readers interested in the American South. It contributes a vibrant, colorful layer of understanding to the continuously emerging picture of complexity in this region historically depicted by simple stereotypes.
 
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Soviet Mass Festivals, 1917–1991
Malte Rolf
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013

Mass festivals were a trademark of twentieth-century authoritarianism, as seen in fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and elsewhere. But nowhere was this phenomenon more prevalent than in the Soviet Union. Despite being a dominant feature of Soviet culture, these public spectacles have been largely overlooked as objects of study by historians.

Originally published in German, Malte Rolf’s highly acclaimed work examines the creation and perpetuation of large-scale celebrations such as May Day, the anniversary of the October Revolution, Harvest Day, and others throughout the Soviet era. He chronicles the overt political agendas, public displays of power, forced participation, and widespread use of these events in the Soviet drive to eradicate existing cultural norms and replace them with new icons of Soviet ideology. Rolf shows how the new Red Calendar became an essential tool in redefining celebrations in the Soviet Union.

Rolf traces the roots of Soviet mass festivals in disparate multiethnic celebrations, protests, and street marches during the late imperial era. He then contrasts these with postrevolutionary events that sought to dissolve ethnic rituals and unify the masses. By the end of the civil war, the Bolsheviks had a well-defined calendar of events and began to dictate the forms of public celebration in accordance with party rhetoric. In distant regions, organizers attempted to follow the models of Moscow and Leningrad, despite budgetary constraints and local resistance. In many outlying areas a hybridization of events developed as local customs merged with party mandates. People often made use of official holidays to adopt their own agendas, yet continued to follow the line of an official Soviet culture. Mass festivals were thus an important tool for Sovietizing the cultural landscape.

After the Second World War, the Soviets exported their festival culture to Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, which resulted in a melding of Soviet guidelines with national cultural forms. Additionally, Rolf compares and contrasts Soviet mass spectacles with mass events in Italy, Germany, and the United States to reveal their similar influence despite divergent political, cultural, and social systems.

In the Soviet Union, mass festivals continued through the time of Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and up until perestroika, despite their fading political impact. Rolf finds that in the end, Soviet celebrations became effectively ingrained in Russia’s post-Soviet national memory, which ironically was the intent of the original festival planners.
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Spectacle and Sacrifice
The Ritual Foundations of Village Life in North China
David Johnson
Harvard University Press, 2009

This book is about the ritual world of a group of rural settlements in Shanxi province in pre-1949 North China. Temple festivals, with their giant processions, elaborate rituals, and operas, were the most important influence on the symbolic universe of ordinary villagers and demonstrate their remarkable capacity for religious and artistic creation. The great festivals described in this book were their supreme collective achievements and were carried out virtually without assistance from local officials or educated elites, clerical or lay.

Chinese culture was a performance culture, and ritual was the highest form of performance. Village ritual life everywhere in pre-revolutionary China was complex, conservative, and extraordinarily diverse. Festivals and their associated rituals and operas provided the emotional and intellectual materials out of which ordinary people constructed their ideas about the world of men and the realm of the gods. It is, David Johnson argues, impossible to form an adequate idea of traditional Chinese society without a thorough understanding of village ritual. Newly discovered liturgical manuscripts allow him to reconstruct North Chinese temple festivals in unprecedented detail and prove that they are sharply different from the Daoist- and Buddhist-based communal rituals of South China.

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The Spectacular City, Mexico, and Colonial Hispanic Literary Culture
By Stephanie Merrim
University of Texas Press, 2010

Winner, Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, Modern Language Association, 2010

The Spectacular City, Mexico, and Colonial Hispanic Literary Culture tracks the three spectacular forces of New World literary culture—cities, festivals, and wonder—from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century, from the Old World to the New, and from Mexico to Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. It treats a multitude of imperialist and anti-imperialist texts in depth, including poetry, drama, protofiction, historiography, and journalism. While several of the landmark authors studied, including Hernán Cortés and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, are familiar, others have received remarkably little critical attention. Similarly, in spotlighting creole writers, Merrim reveals an intertextual tradition in Mexico that spans two centuries. Because the spectacular city reaches its peak in the seventeenth century, Merrim's book also theorizes and details the spirited work of the New World Baroque. The result is the rich examination of a trajectory that leads from the Renaissance ordered city to the energetic revolts of the spectacular city and the New World Baroque.

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The Spectacular City
Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia
Daniel M. Goldstein
Duke University Press, 2004
Since the Bolivian revolution in 1952, migrants have come to the city of Cochabamba, seeking opportunity and relief from rural poverty. They have settled in barrios on the city’s outskirts only to find that the rights of citizens—basic rights of property and security, especially protection from crime—are not available to them. In this ethnography, Daniel M. Goldstein considers the significance of and similarities between two kinds of spectacles—street festivals and the vigilante lynching of criminals—as they are performed in the Cochabamba barrio of Villa Pagador. By examining folkloric festivals and vigilante violence within the same analytical framework, Goldstein shows how marginalized urban migrants, shut out of the city and neglected by the state, use performance to assert their national belonging and to express their grievances against the inadequacies of the state’s official legal order.

During the period of Goldstein’s fieldwork in Villa Pagador in the mid-1990s, residents attempted to lynch several thieves and attacked the police who tried to intervene. Since that time, there have been hundreds of lynchings in the poor barrios surrounding Cochabamba. Goldstein presents the lynchings of thieves as a form of horrific performance, with elements of critique and political action that echo those of local festivals. He explores the consequences and implications of extralegal violence for human rights and the rule of law in the contemporary Andes. In rich detail, he provides an in-depth look at the development of Villa Pagador and of the larger metropolitan area of Cochabamba, illuminating a contemporary Andean city from both microethnographic and macrohistorical perspectives. Focusing on indigenous peoples’ experiences of urban life and their attempts to manage their sociopolitical status within the broader context of neoliberal capitalism and political decentralization, The Spectacular City highlights the deep connections between performance, law, violence, and the state.

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Spectacular Wealth
The Festivals of Colonial South American Mining Towns
By Lisa Voigt
University of Texas Press, 2016

Bridging print culture and performance, Spectacular Wealth draws on eighteenth-century festival accounts to explore how colonial residents of the silver-mining town of Potosí, in the viceroyalty of Peru, and the gold-mining region of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, created rich festive cultures that refuted European allegations of barbarism and greed. In her examination of the festive participation of the towns’ diverse inhabitants, including those whose forced or slave labor produced the colonies’ mineral wealth, Lisa Voigt shows how Amerindians, Afro-descendants, Europeans, and creoles displayed their social capital and cultural practices in spectacular performances.

Tracing the multiple meanings and messages of civic festivals and religious feast days alike, Spectacular Wealth highlights the conflicting agendas at work in the organization, performance, and publication of festivals. Celebrants and writers in mining boomtowns presented themselves as far more than tributaries yielding mineral wealth to the Spanish and Portuguese empires, using festivals to redefine their reputations and to celebrate their cultural, spiritual, and intellectual wealth.

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The Village Is Like a Wheel
Rethinking Cargos, Family, and Ethnicity in Highland Mexico
Roger Magazine
University of Arizona Press, 2012
In this modern-day anthropological manifesto, Roger Magazine proposes a radical but commonsense change to the study of people whose understanding of the world differs substantially from our own. Specifically, it argues for a major shift in the prevailing approach to the study of rural highland peoples in Mexico. Using ethnographic material, Roger Magazine builds a convincing case that many of the discipline’s usual topics and approaches distract anthropologists from what is truly important to the people whose lives they study. While Western anthropologists have usually focused on the production of things, such as community, social structure, cultural practices, identities, and material goods—since this is what they see as the appropriate objective of productive action in their own lives—residents of rural highland communities in Mexico (among others) are primarily concerned with what Magazine calls the production of active subjectivity in other persons.

According to Magazine, where Western anthropologists often assume that persons are individuals capable of acting on their own to produce things, rural highland Mexicans see persons as inherently interdependent and in need of others even to act. He utilizes the term “active subjectivity” to denote the fact that what they produce in others is not simply action but also a subjective state or attitude of willingness to perform the action.

The author’s goals are to improve understandings of rural highland Mexicans’ lives and to contribute to a broader disciplinary effort aimed at revealing the cultural specificity or ethnocentricity of our supposedly universally applicable concepts and theories.
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Viva George!
Celebrating Washington's Birthday at the US-Mexico Border
By Elaine A. Peña
University of Texas Press, 2020
2021 Jim Parish Award for Documentation and Publication of Local and Regional History, Webb County Heritage Foundation

For 120 years, residents of the cross-border community of Laredo/Nuevo Laredo have celebrated George Washington's birthday together, and this account reveals the essential political work of a time-honored civic tradition.


Since 1898, residents of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, have reached across the US-Mexico border to celebrate George Washington's birthday. The celebration can last a whole month, with parade goers reveling in American and Mexican symbols; George Washington saluting; and “Pocahontas” riding on horseback. An international bridge ceremony, the heart and soul of the festivities, features children from both sides of the border marching toward each other to link the cities with an embrace. ¡Viva George! offers an ethnography and a history of this celebration, which emerges as both symbol and substance of cross-border community life. Anthropologist and Laredo native Elaine A. Peña shows how generations of border officials, civil society organizers, and everyday people have used the bridge ritual to protect shared economic and security interests as well as negotiate tensions amid natural disasters, drug-war violence, and immigration debates. Drawing on previously unknown sources and extensive fieldwork, Peña finds that border enactments like Washington's birthday are more than goodwill gestures. From the Rio Grande to the 38th Parallel, they do the meaningful political work that partisan polemics cannot.
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Voices
An Anthropologist's Dialogue with an Italian-American Festival
Richard M. Swiderski
University of Wisconsin Press, 1987
This is a study of the St. Peter's Fiesta celebrated annually by the Italian, or better, Sicilian-American community of Gloucester, Massachusetts, USA. The study deals specifically with the fiesta that took place 25–28 June 1970.
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Worshipping Athena
Panathenaia And Parthenon
Edited by Jenifer Neils
University of Wisconsin Press, 1996
The foremost religious festival of ancient Athens—the city dedicated to Athena, goddess of war, fertility, arts, and wisdom—was the Panathenaia. Challenging old assumptions and refuting new theories, Worshipping Athena addresses the many problems of interpretation and understanding that have swirled for years around the Panathenaia. Among the issues discussed is the recent sensational controversy over the Parthenon frieze, perhaps the best known but least understood work of Greek art. For centuries the frieze has been thought to represent the Panathenaia procession, but recently the argument has been advanced that it depicts the sacrifice of the daughters of the Athenian king Erechtheus. Worshipping Athena offers compelling evidence that the frieze does indeed depict the festal procession and also demonstrates that scenes of contemporary ritual were not unique to the Parthenon.
    Editor Jenifer Neils and the contributors—eminent classicists, archaeologists, and art historians—explore the role of the Panathenaia in Athenian life and compare it with similar festivals held throughout the ancient Greek world. They discuss such topics as the Panathenaia’s mythical origins, the phenomenon of the festival’s valuable prizes (oil-filled amphoras, rather than the customary laurel wreath), and the architecture, sculpture, and painting related to the festival.
    Worshipping Athena will provide valuable insights to scholars and students concerned with ancient religion, mythology, art, literature, and gender issues, as well as anyone with a keen interest in the ritual topography of the Athenian Acropolis and the iconography of the Parthenon frieze.
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