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The Politics of Cultural Performance

Edited by David Parkin, Lionel Caplan, and Humphrey Fisher

294 pages, index

ISBN  978-1-57181-898-0 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (March 1996)

ISBN  978-1-57181-925-3 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (March 1996)

eISBN 978-1-78238-882-1 eBook


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The line between what is regarded by people as "traditional" and "modern" is constantly being altered by new configurations of power. These essays examine the ways in which such changes are both communicated and created through cultural performances in diverse ethnographic settings. Examples are drawn from a wide range of forms and expressions: divinatory sequences, spirit possession rites, state ceremonials, village feasts, pilgrimages, language-use and craft specialisms. It was Abner Cohen, to whom this volume is dedicated, who first suggested that a dialectical relationship existed between power and symbolism. This concept, as developed in his seminal work, has since become a growing area of study as reflected in this important collection. By questioning some of the directions, the authors make a major interdisciplinary contribution to the study of cultural performance as a key factor in power relationships. The principal stage is Africa, but comparative ethnographic data are drawn from Ireland, Italy, South Asia, and the United Kingdom.

David Parkin is Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

Subject: Performance Studies General Anthropology Religion
Area: Africa Europe

LC: GN345 .P633 1996

BL: YC.1997.a.865

BISAC: PER000000 PERFORMING ARTS/General; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural

BIC: JFCA Popular culture; JHM Anthropology


Related Video

Interview of Lionel Caplan, January 2004 concerning his work in Nepal and India and his teaching at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Interviewed by Alan Macfarlane, filmed by Sarah Harrison. Lasts about 50 mins. Generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust.

An interview of the social anthropologist David Parkin. Filmed by Alan Macfarlane on 17 March 2009 and edited by Sarah Harrison. Generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust.