Power And Performance / Edition 1

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In 1985 Johannes Fabian, while engaged in fieldwork in the Shaba province of Zaire, first encountered this saying. Its implications—for the charismatic religious movements Fabian was examining, for the highly charged political atmosphere of Zaire, and for the cultures of the Luba peoples—continued to intrigue him, though its meaning remained elusive.  On a later visit, he mentioned the saying to a company of popular actors, and triggered an ethnographic brainstorm.  “Spontaneously, they decided it would be just the right topic for their next play.  On the spot they began planning—suggestions for a plot were made, problems of translating the French term ‘pouvoir’ were debated, several actors cited sayings and customs from their home villages. . . .” 

Power and Performance examines traditional proverbs about power as it illustrates how the performance of Le pouvoir se mange entier was created, rehearsed, and performed. The play deals with the issue of power through a series of conflicts between villagers and their chief. Both rehearsal and performance versions of the text of this drama are included, in Swahili and in English translation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Power is eaten whole” (“Le pouvoir se mange entire”).
Anthropologist Fabian mentioned a proverb he had heard to a company of actors in Zaire, and it triggered an ethnographic brainstorming session which resulted in a play, Le pouvoir se mange entier. (Power is eaten whole). This study, an experiment in ethnographic works, examines traditional proverbs about power as it illustrates how the play was created, rehearsed, and performed. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299125141
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 12/19/1990
  • Series: New Directions in Anthropological Writing Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 340
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Johannes Fabian is professor in the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Non-Western Sociology at the University of Amsterdam.  His many publications include the influential Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object

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Table of Contents

Maps and Figures xi
Preface xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Chapter 1 Reflections on Ethnography 3
Discovery: From Informative to Performative Ethnography 3
Performance: Some Uses in and around Anthropology 7
Some Ideas Guiding this Study 11
Moving Ahead: Performance and Survival 15
Chapter 2 The "Problem": Power and Cultural Axiom 21
Of Power and Chicken Gizzards 22
The Missing Proverb 26
Power and Lore: Some Elements in Luba Culture 30
Cultural Axioms and Performance 36
Chapter 3 The Experimenters 40
The Troupe Theatrale Mufwankolo: First Encounter and Some History 40
Popular Theater in Shaba: Settings and Contexts 52
Chapter 4 The Experiment 61
The Setting: Glimpses of Power and Play 61
The Work: A Chronological Account of the Rehearsal Process 64
The Play: Dress Rehearsal and Shooting Le pouvoir se mange entier 80
Chapter 5 Interlude: The Missing Text 87
Ethnographic Texts as Protocols 87
Protocols of What? 92
Remarks and Apologies on Transcription and Translation 97
Chapter 6 Plot and Players 101
From Saying to Play: Developing a Plot 101
Power Is Eaten Whole: Bwana Cheko's Version (Text 1) 101
Power Is Eaten Whole: Mufwankolo's Version (Text 2) 110
The Players 120
Chapter 7 Scene 1: The Law of the Land 125
Introductory Song: Rehearsal Version (Text 3) 125
Last Directions (Text 4) 126
Announcing the Chief: Rehearsal Version (Text 5) 130
The Chief's Speech: Rehearsal Version (Text 6) 131
Directions for the Chief's Departure (Text 7) 136
Announcing the Chief: Final Version (Text 8) 139
The Chief's Speech: Final Version (Text 9) 140
Chapter 8 Scene 2: Trouble Brewing 145
Contesting the Chief: Rehearsal Version (Text 10) 145
Contesting the Chief: Final Version (Fragments: Text 11) 157
Chapter 9 Scene 3: The Case of the Thief 159
The Case of the Thief: Rehearsal Version (Text 12) 161
The Case of the Thief: The Chief's Verdict, Final Version (Text 13) 173
Chapter 10 Scene 4: The Hunter's Visit 175
The Hunter's Visit: Rehearsal Version (Text 14) 176
The Hunter's Visit: Final Version (Text 15) 188
Chapter 11 Scene 5: The Case of Adultery 193
The Case of Adultery: Rehearsal Version (Text 16) 193
The Case of Adultery: Final Version (Text 17) 212
Chapter 12 Scene 6: Revolt in the Fields 225
Revolt in the Fields: Rehearsal Version (Text 18) 226
The Chief Goes to the Fields: Rehearsal Version (Text 19) 239
The Chief Sends Tala Ngai to the Fields (Text 20) 241
Tala Ngai in the Fields (Text 21) 242
The Chief Sends His Guards to the Fields (Text 22) 243
The Chief Sends Bwana Cheko and Masimango to the Fields (Text 23) 244
The Chief Sends His Wife to the Fields (Text 24) 245
The Chief Goes to the Fields: Final Version (Text 25) 246
Chapter 13 Scene 7: The Chief Takes Control: Order Restored 248
The Chief's Final Speech: Kachelewa's Directions (Text 26) 248
The Chief's Final Speech: Rehearsal Version (Text 27) 250
The Chief's Final Speech: Final Version (Text 28) 253
Chapter 14 Reflections and Afterthoughts 257
On Endings, Meanings, and Interpretation 257
All Is Well That Ends Well... 258
Does It "End Well"? 260
Closure and Meaning 261
On Performance, Folklore, and Power 263
Appendix Bwana Cheko's Scenario 291
Bibliography 293
Index 307
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