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Innovation through Collaboration

Celebrating the Work of El Hadji Sy and Laboratoire AGIT'ART

Carol Dixon

The true meaning of collaborative contemporary arts practice is personified by El Hadji Sy (El Sy), the internationally renowned painter, curator and live performance installationist who – along with fellow Senegalese intellectual and activist Issa Samb and theatre director Yussufa John – founded the influential Dakar-based collective Laboratoire AGIT’ART.

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Cheryl Finley

This article examines the impact of art, performance, and technology on the global transformation of heritage tourism in recent years. Thanks to a series of case studies focusing on sites of memory deemed important to diasporic Africans, this article shows how art, performance, and technology are central to identity formation through an examination of mnemonic aesthetics and practices. Recent changes in heritage tourism have given rise to the establishment of categories such as “tangible“ and “intangible“ heritage as well as the construction of museums, the implementation of walking tours or the promotion of reenactments and ritual performances alongside environmental, volunteer, and virtual tourism. But how do tourists' interpretations of historic sites of memory change when various economic, political, social, and cultural factors converge globally? People seek experiences and outlets that could enable them to cling to those things that are familiar to them, while enabling them to identify with like communities in the midst of ground-shaking social, technological, economic, and political changes. Heritage tourism is one of those social practices that produces a sense of centeredness through a complex negotiation and presentation of memory, art, and performance.

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Bleu, Blanc…Green?

France and Climate Change

Éloi Laurent

The deadly heat wave of August 2003 convinced a majority of French of the dramatic impact of climate change. This article aims at presenting evidence and analysis about public perception, environmental performance, and policy development in France with regards to this major public apprehension. The French are indeed among the most concerned people in the world and the EU about climate change, and they seem more willing than others to act resolutely to mitigate it. Yet, if the performance of the French economy in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHS) is flattering, ambitious public policies will have to be implemented to achieve the "factor 4" objective set in 2005 (a four-fold reduction of GHG by 2050). This was precisely the main purpose of the "Grenelle environnement," which in 2007 tried to build into the law the national consensus on climate change and the sustainability of which is bound to be tested by acute economic difficulties.

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Missionaries and Colonialism in a Postcolonial Museum

Or, How a Finnish Peasant Can Become an African Folk Hero

Ian Fairweather

This article sets out to locate a particular postcolonial museum in its historical context, concentrating on local responses to change. It focuses on the specific historical interaction between villagers in northern Namibia and Finnish missionaries, and demonstrates that the dynamics of this interaction have led the villagers to remember the past in terms of a cleavage between pagans and Christians that is played out in the regular performances that take place for foreign visitors at the Nakambale museum. I argue that the performance of ‘tradition’ allows local people to transform the narrative presented in the physical layout of the museum into one that both emphasizes their own historical agency and demonstrates their contemporary Christian identities. The traditional/modern dichotomy implied by the museum’s narrative of the civilizing influence, brought by Christianity, provides them with an opportunity to do just that.

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Belfast St Patrick's Day Celebrations and the Act of Forgetting

Trying to Create Cross-community Identities

John Nagle

St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast city centre since 1998 have been imagined as providing a common symbol and space to imagine cross-community identities. Celebrations represent an attempt to constitute a social act of forgetting, to abandon a past where public commemorations perpetuated sectarian division. This article charts how the celebrations were contentious as competing groups claimed ownership over its performance. The contested status of the celebrations were largely the outgrowth of political legislation which, rather than facilitating cross-community alliances and identities, preserves the outright difference and absolute cultures enshrined in the notion of 'nationalist' and 'unionist' identities. Moreover, if the performance of memory has helped maintain discrete unionist and nationalist identities, and an abandoning of a past blighted by sectarian conflict is required to create a new, harmonious society, this legislation rendered the role of memory and forgetting ambiguous by stressing both as contributors to reconciliation.

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Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

In this article I will compare indigenous cultural performances for outsiders in an allegedly 'inauthentic' Embera community in Panama, which welcomes tourists on a daily basis, with similar staged events in some other less accessible communities, which receive visitors much less frequently. I will challenge the idea introduced by several travellers who seek authentic experiences that the first community is 'unreal' and its repetitive representations of Embera culture are mechanical, sterile and unoriginal. I will argue that these repetitive cultural performances constitute real lived experiences, and do not deserve to be demeaned as inauthentic. I will further maintain that in the 'tourist' community, as well as in the less accessible settlements, the Embera respond to the same set of expectations. They imagine what Western visitors would appreciate from their culture and enact very similar representations of these generalised expectations.

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The Red and the Black

A Practical Experiment for Thinking about Ritual

Michael Houseman

This essay reports on the performance of an initiatory rite of the author’s invention, undertaken as a practical experiment for thinking about certain recurrent features of ritual action and, specifically, of (male) initiation. In keeping with an approach that sees ritual as the enactment of special relationships, this initiation, The Red and the Black, was designed to demonstrate the importance of interactive patterning both for the structuring of ritual performance and for the participants’ commitment to the relationships they ritually enact. Its meaningfulness, as well as its capacity to affect the participants’ perceptions and ideas, is shown to derive less from the (minimal) explicit symbolism it employs, the beliefs it presupposes, or the social functions that can be attributed to it than from the relational entailments of the coordinate interactions it involves. Framing, simulation, secrecy, imposed suffering, symbolism, ceremonial efficacy, ritual condensation, and the complex interplay of in-group and out-group perspectives are among the issues that are illustrated and discussed.

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Gust A. Yep, Sage E. Russo, and Ryan M. Lescure

Offering a captivating exploration of seven-year-old Ludovic Fabre’s struggle against cultural expectations of normative boyhood masculinity, Alain Berliner’s blockbuster Ma Vie en Rose exposes the ways in which current sex and gender systems operate in cinematic representations of nonconforming gender identities. Using transing as our theoretical framework to investigate how gender is assembled and reassembled in and across other social categories such as age, we engage in a close reading of the film with a focus on Ludovic’s gender performance. Our analysis reveals three distinct but interrelated discourses—construction, correction, and narration—as the protagonist and Ludovic’s family and larger social circle attempt to work with, through, and against transgression of normative boyhood masculinity. We conclude by exploring the implications of transing boyhood gender performances.

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Remapping Sacred Landscapes

Shamanic Tourism and Cultural Production on the Olkhon Island

Anya Bernstein

This article looks at the particular ways in which shamanic sacred places are being constructed through tourist performances. Focusing on the guided tours in Olkhon Island conducted by a Buryat shaman, the article maps out the various meanings of this tourist phenomenon in the context of Buryat shamanic revival. It interprets tourist performances as forms of social action and as a paradigmatic example of how contemporary Buryats fashion their ethnic and religious identity, arguing that this form of shamanic tourism results in the greater articulation (rather than the diminution) of cultural heritage. Focusing on the intercultural production of sacred sites as one part of multi-faceted shamanic revitalization process, the article demonstrates that it is through reinvention of shamanism as a "genuine world religion" — which fashions sacred sites as equivalents of "temples" (in this case in tourist discourse)—indigenous activists stake out political ground for reclaiming sacred sites.

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Eva Infante Mora

Evaluation is essential to the analysis of the performance of academic programmes and is a central feature of the academic accountability movement. Most study abroad programmes, however, lack evaluation protocols, even though establishing them and acting on the results would contribute to their credibility. This final section of a comprehensive account of the reform of a study abroad programme presents how CASA-Sevilla has developed evaluation strategies to inform pedagogical changes in each successive semester to improve student-learning outcomes. The programme’s aim is to achieve a 360-degree assessment by treating students holistically and including all involved faculty, staff, community partners and host families. The aim is also to be transparent in pointing out the problems in the programme’s performance and use them as an impetus for improvement. This section is written to share what we have learned in hopes of starting a more robust dialogue among study abroad programmes about evaluation.