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Performers, Play, Agency
Yoruba peoples of southwestern Nigeria conceive of rituals as journeys -- sometimes actual, sometimes virtual. Performed as a parade or a procession, a pilgrimage, a masking display, or possession trance, the journey evokes the reflexive, progressive, transformative experience of ritual participation. Yoruba Ritual is an original and provocative study of these practices. Using a performance paradigm, Margaret Thompson Drewal forges a new theoretical and methodological approach to the study of ritual that is thoroughly grounded in close analysis of the thoughts and actions of the participants. Challenging traditional notions of ritual as rigid, stereotypic, and invariant, Drewal reveals ritual to be progressive, transformative, generative, and reflexive and replete with simultaneity, multifocality, contingency, indeterminacy, and intertextuality.
Throughout the book prominence is given to the intentionality of actors as knowledgeable agents who transform ritual itself through play and improvisation. Integral to the narrative are interpolations about performances and their meanings by Kolawole Ositola, a scholar of Yoruba oral tradition, ritual practitioner, diviner, and master performer. Rich descriptions of rituals relating to birth, death, reincarnation, divination, and constructions of gender are rendered all the more vivid by a generous selection of field photos of actual performances.
Exploring the Yoruba tradition in the United States, Hucks begins with the story of Nana Oseijeman Adefunmi’s personal search for identity and meaning as a young man in Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s. She traces his development as an artist, religious leader, and founder of several African-influenced religio-cultural projects in Harlem and later in the South. Adefunmi was part of a generation of young migrants attracted to the bohemian lifestyle of New York City and the black nationalist fervor of Harlem. Cofounding Shango Temple in 1959, Yoruba Temple in 1960, and Oyotunji African Village in 1970, Adefunmi and other African Americans in that period renamed themselves “Yorubas” and engaged in the task of transforming Cuban Santería into a new religious expression that satisfied their racial and nationalist leanings and eventually helped to place African Americans on a global religious schema alongside other Yoruba practitioners in Africa and the diaspora.
Alongside the story of Adefunmi, Hucks weaves historical and sociological analyses of the relationship between black cultural nationalism and reinterpretations of the meaning of Africa from within the African American community.
Steve Adubato's entire professional life has been about branding--learning it, living it, making mistakes at it, teaching it at several universities, while discovering how to find the fine line between shameless self-promotion and smart, strategic branding--first for himself, then for others, and now for readers interested in an honest analysis of the good and bad in practiced branding.
So, what's really in this book for you? Adubato profiles the brands of more than thirty people and companies and skillfully analyzes and dissects their strategies. His sage advice and on-target approach will help readers who:
Let's face it--it's a tough economic world today and there's cutthroat competition. Dive into Adubato's book and get ready to turn a powerful page in life.
Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement
"You must be from the North," was a common, derogatory reaction to the activities of white women throughout the South, well-meaning wives and mothers who joined together to improve schools or local sanitation but found their efforts decried as more troublesome civil rights agitation. You Must Be from the North: Southern White Women in the Memphis Civil Rights Movement focuses on a generation of white women in Memphis, Tennessee, born between the two World Wars and typically omitted from the history of the civil rights movement. The women for the most part did not jeopardize their lives by participating alongside black activists in sit-ins and freedom rides. Instead, they began their journey into civil rights activism as a result of their commitment to traditional female roles through such organizations as the Junior League. What originated as a way to do charitable work, however, evolved into more substantive political action.While involvement with groups devoted to feeding schoolchildren and expanding Bible study sessions seemed benign, these white women's growing awareness of racial disparities in Memphis and elsewhere caused them to question the South's hierarchies in ways many of their peers did not. Ultimately, they found themselves challenging segregation more directly, found themselves ostracized as a result, and discovered they were often distrusted by a justifiably suspicious black community. Their newly discovered commitment to civil rights contributed to the success of the city's sanitation workers' strike of 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death during the strike resonated so deeply that for many of these women it became a defining moment. In the long term, these women proved to be a persistent and progressive influence upon the attitudes of the white population of Memphis, and particularly on the city's elite.
Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense
Some poems can change our lives; they lead us to look at the world through new eyes. In this book, inspired by Martin Heidegger--who found in poetry the most fundamental insights into the human condition--John Lysaker develops a concept of ur-poetry to explore philosophically how poetic language creates fresh meaning in our world and transforms the way in which we choose to live in it. Not limited to a single poem or collection of poems, ur-poetry arises when, in the interaction of an author's principal tropes, the origin of poetry is exposed as a process whereby words with inherited meaning take on a new poetic life that draws our attention to the "birth of sense"--the manner in which the manifold realities that surround us are revealed. And it is precisely through an experience of the birth of sense that we are able to understand and dwell differently among these realities. To demonstrate ur-poetry in action, the book frequently refers to such poets as Akhmatova, Ammons, Celan, Mandelstam, and Stevens, but it focuses on the work of Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Simic. By addressing the nature of human existence, the origins of sense, and the signi¹cance of history in and for human action, Lysaker argues that Simic's writing exempli¹es the import that poetry can have for how we understand and live our lives.
Holocaust Memory in American Passover Ritual
Passover is among the most widely observed holidays for American Jews. During this festival of redemption, Jewish families retell the biblical story of Exodus using a ritual book known as a haggadah, often weaving modern tales of oppression through the biblical narrative. References to the Holocaust are some of the most common additions to contemporary haggadot. However, the parallel between ancient and modern oppression, which seems obvious to some, raises troubling questions for many others. Is it possible to find any redemptive meaning in the Nazi genocide? Are we adding value to this unforgivable moment in history?
Liora Gubkin critiques commemorations that violate memory by erasing the value of everyday life that was lost and collapse the diversity of responses both during the Shoah and afterward. She recounts oral testimonies from Holocaust survivors, cites references to the holiday in popular American culture, and analyzes examples of actual haggadot. Ultimately, Gubkin concludes that it is possible and important to make a space for Holocaust commemoration, all the time recognizing that haggadot must be constantly revisited and “performed.”
Jewish Identity in Postmodern American Culture
The past few decades have seen a remarkable surge in Jewish influences on American culture. Entertainers and artists such as Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Allegra Goodman, and Tony Kushner have heralded new waves of television, film, literature, and theater; a major klezmer revival is under way; bagels are now as commonplace as pizza; and kabbalah has become as cool as crystals. Does this broad range of cultural expression accurately reflect what it means to be Jewish in America today?
Bringing together fourteen new essays by leading scholars, You Should See Yourself examines the fluctuating representations of Jewishness in a variety of areas of popular culture and high art, including literature, the media, film, theater, music, dance, painting, photography, and comedy. Contributors explore the evolution that has taken place within these cultural forms and how we can best explain these changes. Are variations in our understanding of Jewishness the result of general phenomena such as multiculturalism, politics, and postmodernism, or are they the product of more specifically Jewish concerns such as the intermarriage/continuity crisis, religious renewal, and relations between the United States and Israel?
Accessible to students and general readers alike, this volume takes an important step toward advancing the discussion of Jewish cultural influences in this country.
American National Identity in Presidential Rhetoric
New in paperback As we ask anew in these troubled times what it means to be an American, You, the People provides perspective by casting its eye over the answers given by past U.S. presidents in their addresses to the public. Who is an American, and who is not? And yet, as Vanessa Beasley demonstrates in this eloquent exploration of a century of presidential speeches, the questions are not new. Since the Founders first identified the nation as “we, the people,” the faces and accents of U.S. citizens have changed dramatically due to immigration and other constitutive changes. U.S. presidents have often spoken as if there were one monolithic American people. Here Beasley traces rhetorical constructions of American national identity in presidents’ inaugural addresses and state of the union messages from 1885 through 2000. She argues convincingly that while the demographics of the voting citizenry changed rapidly during this period, presidential definitions of American national identity did not. Chief executives have consistently employed a rhetoric of American nationalism that is simultaneously inclusive and exclusive; Beasley examines both the genius and the limitations of this language.
Land, Labor, and the Republican Community
The National Reform Association (NRA) was an antebellum land reform movement inspired by the shared dream of a future shaped by egalitarian homesteads. Mark A. Lause's Young America argues that it was these working people's interest in equitable access to the country's most obvious asset--land--that led them to advocate a federal homestead act granting land to the landless, state legislation to prohibit the foreclosure of family farms, and antimonopolistic limitations on land ownership._x000B_Rooting the movement in contemporary economic structures and social ideology, Young America examines this urban and working-class "agrarianism," demonstrating how the political preoccupations of this movement transformed socialism by drawing its adherents from communitarian preoccupations into political action. The alliance of the NRA's land reformers and radical abolitionists led unprecedented numbers to petition Congress and established the foundations of what became the new Republican Party, promising "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men." _x000B__x000B_
With more than half its population under twenty years old, Iran is one of the world's most youthful nations. The Iranian state characterizes its youth population in two ways: as a homogeneous mass, "an army of twenty millions" devoted to the Revolution, and as alienated, inauthentic, Westernized consumers who constitute a threat to the society. Much of the focus of the Islamic regime has been on ways to protect Iranian young people from moral hazards and to prevent them from providing a gateway for cultural invasion from the West. Iranian authorities express their anxieties through campaigns that target the young generation and its lifestyle and have led to the criminalization of many of the behaviors that make up youth culture.
In this ethnography of contemporary youth culture in Iran's capital, Shahram Khosravi examines how young Tehranis struggle for identity in the battle over the right to self-expression. Khosravi looks closely at the strictures confronting Iranian youth and the ways transnational cultural influences penetrate and flourish. Focusing on gathering places such as shopping centers and coffee shops, Khosravi examines the practices of everyday life through which young Tehranis demonstrate defiance against the official culture and parental dominance. In addition to being sites of opposition, Khosravi argues, these alternative spaces serve as creative centers for expression and, above all, imagination. His analysis reveals the transformative power these spaces have and how they enable young Iranians to develop their own culture as well as individual and generational identities. The text is enriched by examples from literature and cinema and by livid reports from the author's fieldwork.