Anthropology | Performing Politics and Conscience
E660 | 17059 | Royce
Politics is expressed through symbolism. In performance, whether
political ritual, dance, or theater, symbols are selected, heightened,
manipulated and juxtaposed so as to convey meaning in a particularly
powerful way. Meanings may speak to matters of conscience, identity,
ethical stances, belonging and its opposite, exclusion. They may be
calls for action but more often are meant to provoke thought. In this
seminar, we will explore how politics is performed across a number of
cases, both historic and contemporary, and a wide geographic spread.
We will examine performing arts and public ritual, trying to
understand the reasons for their peculiar effectiveness in specific
social and historic contexts. We will have opportunities to hear from
practitioner ‘experts” who come from the community and the university
but who also include visiting artists and scholars in fields such as
ethics, history, and the life sciences.
Texts for the course will include Ritual, Politics and power (David
Kertzer), The Tactical Uses of Passion (F.G.Bailey, The Performance of
Power (Sue-Ellen Case and Janelle Reinelt, eds.), In the Midst of
Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (David
Waldstreicher) as well as works by Maurice Bloch, Richard Bauman,
Michel Foucault, Victor Turner, Anya Peterson Royce, and statements
about their work by artists and performers.
The course requirements include attendance and participation in
discussion, short written précis of the readings, and a research paper
on a topic of your choosing (and my approval) that may include modes
of presentation in addition to text (film, photographs, performance).