Call for Papers: Special issue for Ethnoscripts on ‘Tradition, performance and identity politics in European festivals’

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Call for Papers: Special issue for Ethnoscripts on ‘Tradition, performance and identity politics in European festivals’

Guest editor: Dr Ann Wand, Oxford University

When examining classical anthropological literature on ritual, tradition and performance, most of the material tends to address African or Amerindian studies (see van Gennep’s The rites of passage, 1960; Victor Turner’s The ritual process: structure and anti-structure, 1969; and Huntington and Metcalf’sCelebrations of death: the anthropology of mortuary ritual 1979). As the Anthropology of Europe attempts to works its way into anthropological study, there is as an uneasy divide between classical literature and the study of Europe today. While anthropologists such as Cesare Poppi have tried to apply Hobsbawm’s study of the ‘invention of tradition’ into his work on the Ladin-speaking community of northern Italy (see Revitalizing Europe rituals, 1992), limited resources suggest the need to bridge the gap between classical themes and comparisons with non-European material with the Anthropology of Europe in order to avoid the Occidentalising ‘west versus the rest’ dilemma, which can be found in some aspects of the discipline. In order to fill this lacuna, this issue sets out to focus on two main themes: the (re)invention of tradition, as expressed by Hobsbawm and Ranger (1983), and its relationship with identity politics. As liminality plays a central role in the construction of European festivals, performers’ interpretations of supposedly historically ‘accurate’ carnivalesque practices lead to questions over whether certain traditions performed today are reflexive of societal concerns and political issues. In addition, performers’ identities are also brought to the fore as some masked and unmasked performances provide vehicles to express larger concerns regarding immigration, nationalist identity, economic issues and the diaspora. This focus on the performer, alongside festival participants, also functions as a means to fully recognise and account for the complex and ambiguous ways in which performers are made sense of in certain political settings, while also allowing the authors to move beyond the confines of Hobsbawm and Ranger’s work in order to add to the growing body of literature in the Anthropology of Europe. Through gathering articles around the issues of the (re)invention of tradition and identity politics in Europe, we seek to open a lively discussion concerning the merging of European ethnography with classic literature in the anthropology of ritual, tradition and performance in order that we may contribute towards a truly comparative anthropology.

While the selected papers for this issue thus far derive from a conference hosted at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography at the University of Oxford in March 2017 on ‘Winter festivals and traditions’, this issue plans to look at seasonal festivals in Europe throughout the year. Each of the papers will represent a variety of interpretations of performers’ ideologies as expressed through European traditions.

Selected papers thus far:

Time-honoured tradition or tartan travesty? Diasporic Scottishness and the custom of piping in the haggis

Joy Fraser, George Mason University

‘Wild and beautiful’: The Krampus in Salzburg

Matthäus Rest and Gertraud Seiser, University of Munich and University of Vienna

Once they were shepherds. Górale ethnic identity in celebrations revived and reinterpreted

Pawel Sendyka, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Keep your bloody fingers of our Black Pete!’ A contesting, controversial and changing cultural performance in contemporay Netherlands

Reinhilde Sotiria König, University of Amsterdam

Following the Bear: the revival of Plough Monday traditions and the performance of rural identity in the East Anglian fenlands

Richard D.G. Irvine, Open University

The guest editor is currently looking for 3-4 more papers for the April/ May 2018 Ethnoscripts special issue through the University of Hamburg. If interested, please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, along with a brief personal bio, to Dr Ann Wand at ann.wand(at)anthro.ox.ac.uk

Abstracts are due October 25th and a decision will be made by October 30th. Those who are selected will need to submit an 8,000 word paper for peer review by no later than December 10th.

Note: Selected contributors will also have the opportunity to present their research findings on the Early Career Researcher podcast ‘Coffee & Cocktails’.

We look forward to reading your contributions!

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