Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Staging nationalism: Performance, power, and representation in Ghana's state dance ensembles
by Schauert, Paul W., Ph.D., Indiana University, 2011, 374; 3449575
Abstract (Summary)

Through an application of a phenomenological lens, this dissertation explores the lived experiences of participants in Ghana's state dance ensembles as they negotiate the matrix of local and global power dynamics that inform the process of staging their nation. The author argues that performance, power, and representation are inextricably linked, forming a fundamental part of individuals' experience of nationalism. Supplementing studies of nationalism that focus on its function as a broad, or mass, social movement, this work concentrates on the subjectivities and experiences of individuals, foregrounding the voices of consultants to highlight the multiple perspectives of Ghanaian nationalism that coexist and compete with one another. With this focus, the author illustrates that while artists work to engender and propagate unity, or unitary identity, participants embody national ideology subjectively as uniquely situated individuals.

As such, while many may believe in the nation and the ideals of nationalism, individuals do not lose sight of their own personal goals. Thus, this work shows how individual performers break through disciplinary mechanisms of control to "instrumentally" harness state/national institutions, such as the dance ensembles, to effectively empower themselves through their ingenuity, creative talents, and entrepreneurial efforts.

Additionally, throughout the dissertation, the author shows how power is "glocalized," or, how global and local practices and markers of authority co-mingle to create idiomatic power structures within Ghana. Building on the notion of cosmopolitanism put forth by Thomas Turino, the author proposes the concept of "cosmopolitan modes of power" to describe this phenomenon. Furthering the author's exploration of glocal power, this study investigates the ways in which performers overtly, and covertly, express their views and criticisms of state power, showing that artists come to understand the state and their relationship to it through artistic performance.

Finally, unlike many studies of African nationalism, this work primarily focuses on the post-independence period, exploring how nationalism remains relevant when it is not in direct opposition to colonial rule. The author argues that nationalism requires a relentless re-formation to meet the demands of contemporary circumstances, resulting in a profound renewal and re-shaping of the nation as well as the individual self.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stone, Ruth M.
Commitee: Moorman, Marissa J., Obeng, Samuel, Reed, Daniel B., Stoeltje, Beverly
School: Indiana University
Department: Folklore and Ethnomusicology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Dance, Music, Sub Saharan Africa Studies
Keywords: Dance, Ghana, Music, Nationalism
Publication Number: 3449575
ISBN: 978-1-124-57023-5
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