“This book is remarkable for the variety of public performances it closely describes and analyzes, its geographic range, as well as its variety of genres and historical periods [and] the depth of its scholarship and its disciplinary range. . . . It is a valuable contribution to the study of ritual, festival, and public display.”
—Carolyn Ware, Louisiana State University
“[Public Performances]. . . . will inspire folklorists and scholars in affiliated disciplines to push these issues further, probing more deeply into the political dimensions of the ritualesque and the ritualesque dimensions of the political. . . . A welcome addition to the series.”
—Journal of Folklore Research
"The variety of methods and approaches, which are presented in short essays, makes this a potentially valuable resource for those teaching performance oriented folklore to undergraduates or early-career graduate students. . . . many of the essays also engage intelligently with other genres and scholarly themes that are important to folklorists."
—The Journal of American Folklore
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