becoming_by_acting-ritual

becoming_by_acting-ritual - BECOMING BY ACTING Performance...

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BECOMING BY ACTING Performance as an embodied practice
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Introduction This paper adresses the issue of performance as a factor of meaningful expression and construction of social reality. It will look at performance in anthropological theory, of which the discussion has been increasing during the last two decades, and Roseman 1996). In the 1960s, Victor Turner brought the subject of performance to the fore, especially in connection with rituals of social dramas. In accordance with the spirit (trends) of the time, he focused mainly on the symbolic and interpretive (as well as the structural) aspects of ritual and performance. But he also drew attention to the interplay of mental, emotional and volitional factors as bound up in lived experiences of social life (Turner 1982:84), and thus it can be said that his ideas were in some way precursory to what later became an important issue in anthropology, i.e., embodiment . Scholars like Michael Jackson, Edward Shieffelin and Colin Turnbull (among others), increasingly turned their attention to the problem of the dichotomy of mind and body. Embodiment became a new trend in anthropology. By embodiment is meant the dissolving of this dualism, as well as the centuries-long supremacy of mind over body in western culture (which Descartes has mostly been blamed for), or rather, an anti-body attitude, mainly sponsored by The Church. But the term also indicates a perception of the world through the body, and the body as a seat of knowledge of the world, and as the base of memory and action; past and present. The Past and Present in the Body For anthropology, the main inspirations concerning the concept of embodiment have come from M. Merleau-Ponty and Pierre Bourdieu . In his The Phenomenology of Perception (1962), Merleau-Ponty talked of “being-in-the-world”, as a total and 2
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unifying experience of body and mind, with the senses as the unifying factor. Michael Jackson is one of the exponents of this thought in anthropology, and he has problematized “the intellectualist tendency to regard body praxis as secondary to verbal praxis” (Jackson 1989:122), and he adds that: “meaning should not be reduced to a sign which, as it were, lies on a separate plane outside the immediate domain of an act” (ibid). In other words, it is in the act that body and mind meet, where doing becomes being in the here and now. Bourdieu, with the concept of the habitus (which he adopted from Marcel Mauss), was also out to challange the dichotomy between subject and object, between doing and being. In his theory of practice (Bourdieu 1992), habitus has a central position. For him, habitus indicates: “embodied history, internalized as a second nature and so forgotten as history - (it) is the active presence of the whole past of which it is a product” (Bourdieu 1992:56). So, habitus is history and tradition incorporated into the whole being of the person, acting through body and
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becoming_by_acting-ritual - BECOMING BY ACTING Performance...

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