EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Public celebrations & popular culture in Africa: representations, performances and local appropriations

Location JHT7
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies) email
Petr Skalník (University of Hradec Králové) email
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Long Abstract

The workshop addresses the politico-cultural context of public celebrations, such as National Days, Official Festivals, historical anniversaries, Political Meetings etc. in Sub-Saharan Africa. The arrangement of speeches, parades, sport contests etc. on these occasions often features similar elements from one country to the other. The public staging of these festivities is partly reminiscent of "invented traditions" stemming from colonial times, but also exhibiting a particular post-colonial public culture; displaying regional and transnational political references, elements of folklore and even rituals of inversion. In a detailed analysis, however, these events may reflect local particularities as well as changes in the respective national political structures, modes of national integration, but also styles of leadership and self-representation. We propose to explore from different standpoints and in different respects the various practices, performances, meanings and representations related to these modern political rituals.

Discussant: Tilo Grätz

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Culture, exploitation of resources and conservation: Anadara senilis L (1758) in the Saloum Delta in Senegal

Author: Alvares Benga (University of Ziguinchor)  email
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Long Abstract

The nyominka people constitute a community concentrated in the Delta Saloum in Senegal. The interface land-water forged over the centuries a community of farmers today more turned by irregular rainfall, towards fishing activities. Very ancient and capital activity, the exploitation of Anadara senilis (Bloody cockles) is today exclusively women's activity and attracts significant manpower with regards to the economic crisis. The Saloum Delta's islands are inhabitated by societies in which delicate practices of control of natural resources remain founded on well-established convictions and perceptions. The ark as a multi-purpose resource, omnipresent in these island landscapes, is an indicator of belonging to the land, a symbol of a whole of sociocultural values around which the sereer nyominka recognized themselves. With many regards, the nyominka have shown local knowledge and know-how. This reality typical to the nyominka could be more developed in a rational exploitation process.

Making space for performativity: publics, powers, and places in a multi-register town festival (Bondoukou, Côte d'Ivoire)

Author: Karel Arnaut (KULeuven)  email
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Long Abstract

Situating itself in the post-Durkheimian debate on ritual, performance, and society, this paper sets out to bring elements of heterogeneity in public ritual to bear on issues of power and agency. Whether in participatory roles and publics, multivocality or generic and stylistic choices, performance is seen as an intricate 'power play'. This paper looks into the Sakaraboutou annual pageant which is held in the town of Bondoukou (Côte d'Ivoire) at end of the Muslim month of fasting. The spatiality and performativity in Sakaraboutou is described in terms of registers, i.e. constellations of different publics, their spatial tactics, displays, and production/exchange of 'text'. In sum, this paper tries it come to grips both with the creative dynamics and the authoritarian traditionalism of public rituals as aspects of their cultural reproduction.

Mozambique Island, celebrations of the slave trade abolition: taking historical memories for meaning the present

Author: Carla Almeida (Universidade Algarve)  email
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Long Abstract

In 2009, the celebrations of 23 August in the island had two dimensions: from one side the celebration was translated by the dramatization of the capture of slaves and in other side by different openings that were related with the colonial heritage. This happened accordingly the fact that the island is a World Heritage place, that in this sense are complementary. Whoever the celebration is a dramatization of the present and of the past in the present. The Abner Cohen perspective that makes this more understandable; what matters are the processes and the actors involved, interrelated, in contact; the meanings given or used; the symbols chosen.The aim of the paper is to explain the celebration as part of the monumentalization process of the community, that shapes material culture, but to the expression of their collective memories.

Constructing African performative arts as a new resource for development and transformation

Author: Nadine Sieveking (Georg-August-University Göttingen)  email
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Long Abstract

Cultural practices and performances have served as a reference for pan-Africanist movements and had important representative and integrative functions in the process of post-colonial nation building on the African continent. Since the beginning of the 21st century a new trend can be discerned. Performative practices are 'discovered' by European cultural institutions and development agencies as a resource for development in Africa. More and more contemporary African performers secure their livelihoods by engaging in internationally financed projects using art as a means to deal with basic problems of transformation in African societies. This opens up new possibilities for performing arts in the context of emerging transnational social spaces and public spheres.

The paper presents the outline of an empirical research project focusing on the construction of performative arts as a development potential at the interface between African professional performers and European development and cultural agencies.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.