Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RS13_04: Politics and identity in celebration
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Ismo Juhani Kantola, University of Turku
Session Chair: Ozana Cucu-Oancea, Institute of Sociology
Location: BS.3.23
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Dancing to Different Tunes: Festive Gatherings as Grounds for Radical Democratic Citizenship

Sophia Woodman

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Social movements tend to be portrayed as serious endeavours aimed at changing the world, but they often also involve festive, carnivalesque gatherings, which connect collective enjoyment with mockery of dominant groups, institutions and repressive social structures. Historically, such gatherings have provided marginalized groups with a space for resisting and inverting existing hierarchies (Bacchanalia, carnival), acted as a nexus for organizing uprisings (slave and peasant revolts, ‘moral economy’ protests) and contributed to sustaining indigenous traditions that colonial authorities sought to eliminate (Potlatch, Corroboree). Music, dance and celebration were at the heart of the cultural uprisings of 1968. This paper argues that such grassroots gatherings provide a grounding for radical democratic citizenship as they draw together a potent mix of radical rejection of hierarchy, political resistance as well as dance and music, generating a sense of affective communitas that enables envisioning a different world. Based on ethnographic fieldwork at three gatherings in Scotland, grounded in ecological sensibilities and focusing respectively on alternative medicine, music and reviving seasonal celebrations, the paper explores how these gatherings act as festive nodes in a calendar of alternative lives and livelihoods that take people out of their everyday routines. These events provide opportunities for creating and cementing networks and sharing knowledge about such lives and livelihoods; generating and supporting alternative economies; connecting human and non-human worlds; and an informal politics of deliberation around the norms, values and activities of these communities. The article proposes that the ‘collective joy’ such gatherings can engender is a constitutive element of radical democratic citizenship.

Heroes To Celebrate: On The Agency Of The Cultural Trauma Of WWII

Aleksandra Lozinskaia

Independent scholar

My presentation adds to understanding of cultural trauma by reviewing its agency components. I argue that agencies of cultural trauma maintain wider variability than “the victim” and “the audience” , to oppose to what Jeffrey Alexander suggests in his theorizing of collective trauma.

I build my argument upon the empirical study of revising the meanings of the experiences of WWII. While analyzing the TV-streaming of the Marches for the celebration of the victory in WWII in modern Russia, I focus on the cultural work of journalist interpretations of the war-related stories. I reveal how complexity of the war experiences reduces to the agency of the category of the “celebrated hero”.

In my interpretation part I employ the approaches of the scholars who studied the range of alternative categories to define experiences of WWII. As I focus on classifications such as “survivor” and “victim”, I follow the conceptual schema of the “therapeutic culture”, developed by Arlene Stein. Finally, I suggest the revised comprehension of the process of collective establishment of cultural trauma by highlighting the multiplicity of it's agency.

Celebration And Politics Of Identity: Rituals, Meaning And Sacralisation Of Martyrdom

Anna Małgorzata Królikowska, Maciej Kowalewski

University of Szczecin, Poland

The aim of the paper is to develop theoretical framework for understanding political aspects and political exploitation of processes of martyrdom sacralisation. First, we refer to the theology of martyrdom, looking into the religious perspective. Second, we describe relation between constructing the image of victims and celebrating them in political rituals, reaching, among others, for anthropological approaches to dramaturgy. We underline that in different cultures martyrdom plays an important role in constructing collective political identity and group symbolic (self-)image.

Referring to selected examples of events and their victims from Polish history of 20th 21st centuries, we analyse political aspects of martyrdom celebrations in a dynamic perspective (indicating the stage of celebrating, e.g. whether it is the stage of establishing rituals, their institutionalization and so forth) and in their wider discursive contexts: social, historical, media, and political. We also pay attention to a spatial dimension of the celebration. The concept of the “sacral politics” which we develop assumes that the intensification of sacralisation takes place through institutionalization of the practices of commemoration and celebration related to the categories of "martyrdom", "victim" or "political crime".

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