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



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)

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!


Coffee & Cocktails Episode 3: Translanguaging in Senegal


Two academics, Samantha Goodchild and Miriam Weidl, from SOAS, University of London discuss their research with Dr Ann Wand regarding translanguaging practices in two Senegalese villages in the Casamance region and how their research can be used to understand how language learning can develop thanks to local mobility practices.

Coffee & Cocktails Episode 3

Here’s their link to online teaching material:

Oxford University’s ‘Winter Festivals and Traditions’ conference- available online!


The Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA) at Oxford University has published their ‘Winter Festivals and Traditions’ conference on ETE Education’s YouTube Channel. More information on the speakers and their abstracts can be found here. Otherwise the presenters’ videos can be accessed here.


Tickets on sale for ‘Winter festivals and traditions’ conference, Oxford University- 25 March, 2017


Tickets are now available for the ‘Winter festivals and traditions’ conference at Oxford University for 25 March 2017. A copy of the program is available below:

‘Winter Festivals and Traditions’ Conference

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University

9.15-9.45- Registration (Coffee, tea and biscuits will be provided)- Make sure to bring your tickets with you when registering

9.45-10.00 – Opening remarks: Dr Ann Wand, Oxford University

10.00-11.15 – Panel I: Festivals through history

Chair: Johana Musalkova, Oxford University


Dr Brigid Burke, Montclair State University (USA)

The Lenaia: The winter festival of Dionysus in the context of Greek beliefs about death and the afterlife

Dr Joy Fraser, George Mason University (USA)

“Some fiends disguised as mummers”: The Isaac Mercer murder case and the politics of sectarianism in nineteenth century Newfoundland

Dr Richard Irvine, Cambridge University (UK)

Following the bear: the revival of East Anglian Straw Bear traditions

11.15-11.30- Break

11.30-12.30 – Guest speaker

Convenor: Dr Ann Wand, Oxford University

Dr Cesare Poppi, La Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana (Switzerland)

Sex and the Afterweb: rethinking tradition and cultural continuity

12.30-13.30 – Lunch (Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided)

13.30-14.45 – Panel II: Krampus and Christmas

Chair: Dr Ann Wand, Oxford University


Dr Gertraud Seiser and Dr Matthäus Rest, University of Vienna and University of Munich (Austria and Germany)

Wild and beautiful: the Krampus in Salzburg

Amber Dorko Stopper, co-founder of Parade of Spirits, Liberty Lands (USA)

Spectres and spectra: building self-sustaining folklore and neurodiversity inclusion into processional arts

Lucinda Murphy, Durham University (UK)

The nostalgia of Christmas worship: a resource for re-collection, re-flection and re-newal

14.45-15.15 = Coffee and tea break (biscuits included)

15.15-16.30- Panel III: Carnival, museums and department stores

Chair: Dr Nicolette Makovicky, Oxford University

Prof. Adrian Franklin, University of Tasmania (Australia)

Where ‘art meets life’: the making of Australia’s most successful mid-winter festival [Dark MOFO] in Hobart, Tasmania

Dr Gareth Hamilton and Dita Vinovska, University of Latvia

Losing ‘track’ of inverted time and space: the ‘Crazy Days’ in and outside a Finnish-owned department store in Riga

Dr Giovanni Kezich and Antonella Mott, Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina (Italy)

Carnival king of Europe: European winter masquerades in ethnographic perspective

16.30-16.45 – Break

16.45-17.45- Panel IV: Animals in festivals

Chair: Robin Smith, Oxford University

Dr Francesco Della Costa, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er Sheva (Israel)

The venerable pig: ritual food sharing within a traditional festival in Abruzzo, Italy

Pawel Sendyka, Jagiellonian University (Poland)

The bacas and the priests: how the old adversaries came together to revive and reinterpret tradition

17.45-18.00- Closing remarks: Dr Robert Parkin, Oxford University


Crossing Borders, Breaking Walls: Movement in the French and Italian Speaking Worlds

An interdisciplinary graduate student conference
Hosted by the Department of French and Italian
Indiana University Bloomington
March 10–11, 2017
Crossing Borders, Breaking Walls:
Movement in the French and Italian Speaking Worlds
For as long as our ancestors have populated the earth, human beings have been in constant movement. In movement, the fortunes of peoples rise and fall, old cultures are transformed and new cultures are born. In movement, our ideas collide, our thoughts intertwine and our languages become our sword and shield, but also the harbinger and sculptor of our identities. But there is also another movement, the crossing of not only physical but also metaphysical boundaries: writers who aspire to music in their verses, filmmakers who capture social changes within their frames, women and other minority writers who break the shackles of traditional images—all souls that are not deterred by the conventional limits of their arts. Borders could be affirmative, stressful and violent, but also fluid, productive and revolutionary. There are walls—even today—that are unbreakable and borders uncrossed, be they geographical, social or creative. It is in the upholding of borders that we confront with the limits of our existence; it is in the breaking of walls that we evolve as a species and reinvent our identities as human beings.
Possible areas of reflection:
o   Activism in literature/art/music/cinema and documentary
o   African studies
o   Bilingualism
o   Colonialism/Post-colonialism/Neo-colonialism
o   Crossovers between genres and medias
o   Exoticism/Orientalism
o   Expatriate writer/artists/musicians/filmmakers
o   Folklore/Folk art/Folk music or ethnomusicology
o   Transgendered identity
o   Immigration/refugee issues today and in history
o   Language varieties and contact
o   Migration and estrangement
o   National identity
o   Religious/ethnical contact and conflicts
o   Translation
o   Transnational cinema and literature
o   Travel literature
o   Women and other minority writers/artists/musicians/filmmakers
We welcome submissions from graduate students. Presentations may be in English, French or Italian and should not exceed 20 minutes. Please send abstracts (200/300 words) to by January 20, 2017. Let us know if you have any requests for technology or special arrangements, and we will do our best to accommodate them. In addition to your abstract, please include your presentation title, name, contact information, institutional/departmental affiliation and research interests.

Anticipating a new adventure? Come visit South Tyrol!

Approximately 10 years ago my mother and I decided to grab our things and do a mother-daughter trip to Italy; but we only had one condition: we wanted to see places that most American tourists do not visit.

One decade later, I based my doctorate on one of the provinces that we explored. Below is the introduction to my thesis to give you some idea…

It was the summer of 2005 when my mother and I decided to take a vacation to northern Italy. As we sat in her kitchen plotting our two-week summer adventure, Eleanor, an old family friend, suggested we visit the Austrian-Italian border. ‘There’, she said, ‘is a place called Bolzano, which I think you may find interesting’. While normally I would have dismissed such a comment and opted to visit Florence or Venice, Eleanor’s manifold stories of her childhood under Nazi rule in rural Austria, not least her tale of being ‘kissed’ by the Führer, made me reconsider. Had she not suggested that we visit the province of South Tyrol, I can say with assurance I would never have known that this region even existed.

With the South Tyrolean capital city of Bolzano in mind, we arrived in Verona and took the two and a half hour train journey heading north towards the Alps. As the train worked its way from the major cities towards the more isolated mountains, I noticed a shifting change in landscape that was different from what I had expected, let alone experienced, as a foreign exchange student living in Florence several years before.

It started with the castles, which began to appear on tiny cliff faces in mountain crevices that with the naked eye looked almost impossible to reach let alone build 500 years ago. From these landmarks I noticed the rise and fall of small mountain ridges as they fell into fertile valleys. As far as the eye could see were rows upon rows of apple orchards, a major commodity that I would later learn supported South Tyrol’s German-speaking farming communities. As I surveyed the landscape, I started to take notice of the uniqueness of the alpine architecture. Distinctive as it was with its angulated roofs and window boxes, a familiarity began to take shape in my mind as I realized how ‘Austrian’ they all looked. Unlike the Florentine houses, which followed a strict code of red tiled roofs with sunburnt yellow walls, it dawned on me that every region in Italy must have its own specific provincial ‘style’.

But as we crept our way further up the mountains towards our destination, I started to realize with some trepidation that this no longer ‘felt’ like Italy. Whatever preconceptions I had assumed before this trip of what constituted ‘real’ Italian life, it did not involve a region with Austrian architecture, let alone farms which grew nothing but apples. Fearful that we may have missed our stop and inadvertently crossed the border I wondered if we would need to turn around, when a rusting PA speaker in the carriage crackled into life and announced our imminent arrival into Bolzano. 

As we stood on the railway station platform, I became aware that we were not far from the Austrian border. I heard German and Italian on the railway station’s loud speakers welcoming people just getting off the trains, while German- and Italian-speaking locals eagerly went about their business trying to reach their train before it headed further north or ventured south.

Within 24 hours of our arrival into Bolzano it became quite evident that the city was bilingual. The street signs in the city centre were marked first in German and then Italian while menus in restaurants offered up translations for courses in German, Italian, and if we were lucky, English. Dining options varied from Bavarian Knödel to spaghetti bolognese, with the local wine lists providing a selection of options from the various South Tyrolean vineyards. As I glanced at my surroundings, I noticed German beer gardens set against Italian architecture while old men in blue aprons and Tyrolean hats sold large cow bells with ornate illustrations, as locals drank glasses of beer or sipped the local orange beverage, Veneziano.

An occasional glance would see some young man or woman dressed in the finest lederhosen or dirndl and speaking in German dialect, just as other women wore fine Italian shades and high-heeled shoes and spoke in standard Italian. From the onset it seemed as if I was staring at a contradiction in terms: two cultures and languages were operating in parallel, whether due to history or coincidence, existing separately within the same environment. Italians went to Italian restaurants and Germans preferred to walk to local bars rather than converge in the same social environment. Although linguistic code-switching between German and Italian did occur, most people preferred to use their own language, as I would learn six years later during fieldwork. But at the time of my vacation I was blissfully unaware that language issues were a concern in this small region. Instead I concentrated on the uniqueness of the city, which immediately brought with it a larger question: Despite the existence of national borders, when does one country’s ‘culture’ end before it becomes another?

Below are some links to South Tyrol’s tourism bureau for those who are interested in learning more about the region. Might I also add that the skiing, food and general beauty of the Dolomites are experiences in and of themselves.

From the London Foodie:

South Tyrolean cuisine:

South Tyrolean cuisine part II:–Recipes.html

South Tyrolean tourism bureau:

**The South Tyrolean Christmas Markets!!!*

Posted by ETE’s Founder/ Editor: Dr Ann Wand

The pollution of the Ganges and the dying of the Mother Goddess


This morning I came across a rather disturbing article on the effects that pollution has on the Ganges river. While some of the facts mentioned in this article may come as no surprise, it is fascinating to note that some members of the Hindu community feel that the river is self-cleansing as it is considered a goddess. This article could be an interesting tool for the discussion of religion alongside ethics and how modern-day concepts of pollution are dealt with in religiously sensitive areas.

Posted by ETE’s Founder/ Editor: Dr Ann Wand