Accepted paper:

Spirits and stories: narrative performances and the (dis)location of time and place


Vânia Cardoso (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina)

Paper short abstract:

Narrative takes diverse modes of dramatizing meaning, (dis)locating subjects and producing individuation and collectivization as precipitations of experience. Here we turn to the local poetics of the narratives of the lives of the spirits of preto-velhos in macumba houses in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Paper long abstract:

Performances, as local expressive forms and creative manifestations, take on different forms. Those expressions destabilize and place in contention the very concept of creativity, thus demanding critical reflections that move beyond the classic oppositions between innovation and convention, individual and society, the extraordinary and the everyday. This essay seeks to critically reflect upon narrative as discursive forms that engender meaning in complex social acts. As local epistemological forms, narratives take diverse modes of dramatizing meaning, locating and dislocating subjects and producing at once individuation and collectivization as precipitations of experience. If we do not take narratives merely as modes of description or representation of the world, but as constitutive of that very world, we are then moved to closely consider the poetic forms of our objects. It thus requires that we situate our ethnography within an analytical space that turns our attention to the very performativity of signification. It is such an approach that allows us to engage with the partially told, partially heard stories that narrate the lives and deeds of spirits of preto-velhos - old black folk - that respond to the calling of the ritual songs and dances in the macumba houses across the suburbs of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Such stories cut across the space of ritual and daily lives, bringing into the present traces of a past that cannot be contained by a historical narrative that situates them in a long foregone past.

panel P224
Performing creativity and creating performances: dialogues and tensions on experiencing culture and making places