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Ferdinand de Jong

In his article, Ferdinand de long describes and analyses the Kankurang masquerade, which is the ultimate secret of the Mandinko initiation in South Senegal. Yet, there are many examples of violent confrontations between the Kankurang mask's guardians and individuals who presumably violate or desecrate the mask. The author examines how the secret of the mask was threatened by exposure, the concomitant concerted efforts on the part of a committee of male elders to restore the secret and its attempts to make the mask performance compatible with the state monopoly on the use of violence. In the process, the subversive Kankurang masquerade was objectified into a respectable 'tradition'. This objectification of culture was not a mere attempt at folklorisation, but had far-reaching political implications. (back)


Islam and lts Others
Sakaraboutou as 'Masquerade' in Bondoukou (Cóte d'Ivoire)
Karel Arnaut

Karel Amaut states that performances that involve impersonation and disguise have often been analyzed using a 'secret society model' that was devised in masquerade studies in order to unveil the knowledge-divide between 'cunning producers' and 'credulous audience'. Taking its lead from studies of performance (a) that seek to disentangle the hegemonic dynamics between participant groups, and (b) that focus on mimesis, transformation and empowerment, the author sets out to explore the transgressive potential of Sakaraboutou, an annual Muslim public manifestation at Bondoukou. The article introduces a number of analytical instruments for getting to grips with the different and shifting participant positions and mocking enterprises/experiences of the participants. Rather than advocating a novel approach, the author argues for a more fine-grained examination of processes of impersonation, and against reductive and exoticizing models for studying masquerading in Africa.(back)

Masked Enemies
Resistance and Protest in a Sherpa Community
Yolanda van Ede

In her paper, VanEde describes the introduction of a religious festival, called Narak, in the late 1920sin a Sherpa community in Nepal as a eans of protest against a state-enforced ritual, Dasain, that was to rub in aste legislation and tax reforms. In order to enhance communication of the Sherpa protest to the different ethnic groups and castes nhabiting the same valley,a mask dance was added to the existing liturgical ritual. In this performance the moral politics of the 'other', that is the Nepali state personified particularly by a highcaste family in this face-to-face society, of stigmatizing and degrading non-Hindu peoples were countered by Buddhist notions of generosity and compassion. The whole festival was meant to enhance Sherpa solidarity and kindle insurrections, but did not succeed to trespass its ritual boundaries. Nevertheless, Narak has grown into the main event of this Sherpa community and the masked personae still denounce Nepali politics in a serio-comic way.(back)

The Carnavalizing of Race
Rachel Sussman

In her article, Rachel Sussman focuses on the blackface minstrel shows that were very popular in America from around 1840 till 1860, in which white performers played black slaves. Under their blackface mask, the performers were able to criticize certain social and political developments. The minstrel shows reveal the ambivalent relation of many white Americans towards issues of slavery and the emancipation of black people and as such, they set the precedent for the portrayal of stereotyped, radicalized characters on stage, that still play such an important role in the American entertainment industry. (back)

A White and a Black Mask
The Religious Play of the Nö Theatre
Erika de Poorter

Erika de Poorter discusses the use of masks in Japan, more specifically in the traditional Japanese theatre called No. She focuses on the oldest play, Okina, which is still regularly performed. Through an analysis of the function and treatment of the masks, she seeks to demonstrate its character as a religious play. (back)

Role-Playing Games als Postmoderne Cultuuruiting
Marjolein Hennevanger

Marjolein Hennevanger calls our attention to practices of virtual masking in role-playing games in the Netherlands. In such games, there are no costumes, no masks and no audience; the masquerade only occurs in the imagination of its participants and is evoked by words.
Players, who meet in the evening or during the weekend and are guided by a game master, create virtual characters that interact with each other and indulge in imaginary adventures. Pointing out that fantasy and virtuality are distinct features of this kind of interactive roleplaying
games, the author argues that these games link up with new views of personhood in postmodem culture. (back)