Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Theatre in Cape Verde: Resisting, reclaiming, and recreating national and cultural identity in postcolonial lusophone Africa
by Ferreira, Eunice S., Ph.D., Tufts University, 2009, 205; 3422033
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines post-independence theatre in the Cape Verde Islands, particularly the performative nature of language and cultural identity as artists and audiences engage in cultural discourse in and through performance. In the process of performance, these theatre artists reflect, create, challenge and subvert prevailing positions on language, cultural memory, diasporic identity, Lusophonia, Africa, and globalization.

In examining representative theatre artists and productions of prominent theatre troupes during the thirty-year post-independence period (1975-2005), I argue that staged performances, theatrical practices and aesthetic debates are sites for resisting, reclaiming and recreating national and cultural identity. The troupes and plays under consideration in this research were selected because of the significance of the historical moment and context from which they emerged. Additionally, the troupes represent significant contributions to the practice of theatre in the Cape Verde Islands and reflect the three islands with the most theatrical activity, namely Santiago, Santo Antão and São Vicente. I closely analyze productions for each troupe in accordance with their vision of theatre and their performative choices regarding language and culture within each of their historical contexts. Finally, given the passionate exuberance of the troupes’ directors, I also give special focus to the artists who lead and shape Cape Verdean theatre.

Throughout this investigation I consider a postcolonial resonance that is inextricably tied to the formation, assertion and expression of Cape Verdean identity, especially concerning the efficacy of language. Although the official language is Portuguese, Cape Verdeans speak Crioulo, which draws upon Portuguese and West African languages, just as Crioulo society is a result of centuries of co-infuence between African and European people. While Portuguese remains the country’s “international tongue,” passionately contested battles for the co-official status of and standardization of Crioulo are waged at all socioeconomic levels both in the islands and throughout the diaspora. The interests of government agencies, education, tourism and increasing globalization efforts privilege the place of Portuguese over Crioulo, connecting the islands to Lusophone and international communities. But in the daily lives of Cape Verdeans, it is the Crioulo language that creates community in the islands and in New England, home to one of the largest populations of Cape Verdeans outside the islands. Given Cape Verde’s recent colonial history, the choice to perform in Portuguese or Crioulo is a significant factor in artistic conceptualization and audience reception as Cape Verdeans grapple with issues of national and cultural identity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Conceison, Claire
Commitee: Andrade-Watkins, Claire, Grossman, Barbara W., Macedo, Donaldo
School: Tufts University
Department: Drama
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, African history, Theater
Keywords: Africa, Cape Verde, Creole, Lusophone, Mindelact, National identity
Publication Number: 3422033
ISBN: 9781124205793
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