Communication And Culture | Performance in Communication & Culture
C627 | 1217 | Beverly Stoeltje

Topic: Ritual and Performance in Africa

Ritual and Performance are intimately linked, nowhere more so than in
Africa. Performance is intrinsic to the notion of ritual for without
performance there is no ritual. If we take ritual to be the social
act basic to humanity, as Rappaport argues, this formal event and the
multiple related ritual genres (festival, carnival, drama, contests,
pilgrimage, etc.), provide an arena for the exploration of the social
response to contradiction. Performances of interpretation, rituals
intensify and condense communication, creating an experimental
technology, in the words of the Comaroffs, to affect the flow of
power in the universe, to plumb the magicalities of modernity.

The course will focus on the larger concept of ritual genres as
performed within various locations in Africa, and also ones that
entice ritual participants to Africa, and ones that lure them from
Africa, "going out." This approach seeks to identify the creative
power of ritual as it addresses politics, tourism, gender, and
religious practice. Several Africanist scholars and African leaders
will be invited to deliver a public lecture on Wednesday evening, and
the course will conclude with a festival of African film, focused on

The course meets every Thursday morning and on selected Wednesday
evenings for public guest lectures. Attendance at both is required
for 3 credit hours. A student who wishes to take the course for less
than 3 credits can make arrangements with Professor Stoeltje
( or through the African Studies Program office

Two papers will be required: one 10 page paper and one 20 page paper.
Readings will be announced.