Cultural performance - performed culture?

Salomé Lucia Ritterband
2016 unpublished
After centuries of discrimination and marginalisation the Ju/'hoansi San of North-Eastern Namibia have, in the context of 'Living Museums' and 'Cultural Villages', taken control over their cultural heritage by applying and re-interpreting it in the course of touristic cultural performances for paying visitors. Since tourism is such a fast growing economy it is unavoidable to consider its implications. I was therefore intrigued to explore the strategies and actions the Ju/'hoansi may apply to
more » ... duce cultural activities for tourists. I analysed the motivations of the participants; the re-interpretation of embodied traditional knowledge; the rules that regulate the acts; the role(s) of the audience; as well as possible future developments. My research is based on two empirical fieldworks undertaken in 2014, applying the methods of participant observation, narrative interviews as well as expert interviews and informal talks. The two field experiences differed considerably in their approaches and perspectives, a fact that influenced my research topic and results. Cultural Villages and Living Museums exist mainly through the use and enactment of intangible cultural heritage - the visitors and tourists pay to see 'traditional' activities in the form of staged cultural performances, giving the situation the connotation of being 'unauthentic'. The research question is therefore at the theoretical intersection between the anthropology of (cultural) tourism, the analysis of cultural commodification, discussions on 'authenticity' and performance studies. Being constantly concerned with their own cultural heritage as a basis for living, the Ju/'hoansi experimentally re-interpret it for the creation of specific staged touristic performances. For that purpose they put on traditional attire and adapt the stage and the 'traditional' activities to the supposed requirements of visitors. The cultural activities performed are constantly changing and are the result of a clear interaction between the audience and the actors. T [...]
doi:10.25365/thesis.44431 fatcat:35u4atxhfrhq3p7akrfgnb4kxy