SIEF2017 13th Congress: Göttingen, Germany
26-30 March 2017
Feasts in cities involve specific ways of dwelling in the city that are based on specific relations between human and non-humans (including technology). This panel examines ways of dwelling in the festive city, focusing on concepts of "dwelling", "place", "space" and "belonging".
We encounter the world by dwelling in it, by unfolding space and time. Dwelling means becoming entangled in a meshwork of relations between human and non-humans (including technology), and the past and the present. While the mechanisms of identity building, heritage and economic regulations have been extensively studied with regard to feasts, this panel will examine the multiple ways of dwelling in the festive city that stand between the public and the private, the local and the global, and the various cultural contexts that link the concepts of "dwelling", "place", "space" and "belonging".
City feasts are famous for their power to create a common identity among the population of cities and in some cases of regions and nations. Many feasts are organized by their city's governing body in cooperation with different local groups, and they seem to share certain traits: there is a high degree of civic participation, and during the feast the participating groups occupy certain places in the town at specific times, temporarily converting public places into (semi-)private areas. These feasts are frequently of interest to the national and international media (online and TV), attract international tourists, and have links to the countryside. Consequently, during feasts particular styles of dwelling in the city emerge.
We are inviting scholars from various academic fields to discuss theoretical frameworks and empirical findings on issues related to dwelling in the festive city.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Locating Europe in the festive city: creativity and crisis in the Square of Europe in Zagreb
The paper discusses the role of feasts and other public events in city-making processes. By focusing on the Square of Europe in Zagreb, the author observes how those practices produce, transform or subvert meanings of a place. She analyses mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion from public spaces.
The aim of this paper is to analyse ways in which feasts and similar public events can create and redefine public spaces. It deals with spatial politics and tactics of those practices, by means of which meanings are inscribed in urban locations and certain passive zones within the city are brought to life.
The analysis is based on the case study related to feasts and other special events that are staged at a newly constructed, centrally positioned, square in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, which is informally called the Square of Europe. The focus is on performances designed to celebrate Croatia's accession to the European Union, which re-create and highlight the European, cosmopolitan and metropolitan dimension of the cityscape. The author observes how traditional festive practices, such as Advent events, are reinterpreted in accordance with the new identity of the place and the current social and economic context. Attention is also paid to events that are organized with the intention to subvert the dominant narrative and create a kind of crisis in the Square of Europe. The research results reveal diverse ways in which feasts can activate public space and transform it into an arena of negotiating urban identity.
Insight in city-making strategies is gained by studying the branding of the city through feasts, which is aimed at achieving the city's visibility on the tourism map. On the other hand, the author explores how feasts are used to recreate the image of the city among citizens themselves.
Festive spaces of the city: the Palio of Siena
During the festival “Palio” the way of dwelling in the city changes towards a festive mode. It will be shown how in this occasion festive spaces emerge which are characterized by a special configuration of (public) spaces of appearance and (private) spaces of retreat.
Based on a case study on the Palio of Siena, the aim is to show how this urban festival induces a complex social and spatiotemporal order to the city of Siena. During the festival the Contrade, the neighborhoods of the inner city, encounter each other, different other communities and the city in a specific, festive and competitive, way. Out of this encountering festive spaces emerge in which public and private spaces are reconfigured.
The Palio, a horse race which takes place two times a year on Siena's central square, is an important facet of the dwelling in the city. The Contrade are the main protagonists of this race which is organized by the city's administration and visited by many tourists. During the race members of the seventeen Contrade gather on Siena's main square which becomes a space of appearance because in this occasion the gathered neighborhoods celebrate their collective identities in front of an audience. In other moments of the festival the members of each Contrada gather in their club houses or meet in the main street of their district to have dinner together. The districts are decorated with the Contrada-symbols such as their flag and colors and during "private" gatherings some streets and squares are closed for traffic and non-members. During the festival the inhabitants and visitors of Siena dwell in the city in a festive way. Thus, Siena becomes a festive space characterized by a special configuration of spaces of appearance and spaces of retreat.
Celebration of the death in Mexico City and in Ahuacatlán (Sierra Norte de Puebla): multi-situated commemoration
This proposal approaches the celebration of the Death in Mexico City and in Ahuacatlán. Through this festivity we can discern conceptions about this commemoration, the existence, the body and the person as well as see the multiple relationships among alive and death in private and public spaces.
In the last days (31 October-2 November) was celebrated the celebration of Día de Muertos in Mexico. The festivities occupy multiples areas sometimes in a simultaneous way, taking place both in familiar, cultural and cultural spaces, that is to say private and public spaces. Some of the manifestations like skeletons, sugar skulls and Catrina's likeness, have become transnational images of this celebration but also of Mexican identity and a global. However this festivity does not have the same purpose or symbolic in different ethnic groups in the country.
Therefore, this proposal would like to reveal some aspects of these celebration realized at first in Mexico City and secondly in the Sierra Norte de Puebla at the administrative centre of Ahuacatlán's municipality. In this one the indigenous groups are Nahuas and Totonacs. Among this groups, Todos Santos or All Saints day, is considered as the time of year during which the dead return to their home with their family, they are traditionally received by an offering in the domestic altar to which they are guided through a way of flowers and the light of candles.
I propose in this sense, to expose what does this celebration reveals: first about the celebration as an institutional construction of a cultural heritage; then the indigenous conceptions about existence, the body and the person; finally the multiple and complex relations that occur between living and dead. This particular context made this celebration dynamic and in evolution hence the importance of studying it.
Name of town, identity and dweling in the festive city: St. Johns festival in Jonava
The aim of presentation is to analyse the case of the successive creation of modern midsummer festival in Jonava town at the very beginning of the 21st century. Conflict between the traditional and modern values and their impact on the spatial structure of the town festival will be also analysed .
The aim of presentation is to analyse the case of the successive creation of modern midsummer festival in Jonava town at the very beginning of the 21st century when St. John's Day was officially proclaimed as the rest-day. Conflict between the traditional (rural) and modern values and their impact on the spatial structure of the town festival will be also analysed . The analysis will be based on the author's fieldwork as well as on the written scenario of the St. Johns feast and video-materials.
In 2004, the Lithuanian Midsummer feast - Joninės (St. John's Day) was officially proclaimed as the rest-day. The organizers of the public midsummer feasts meet with a serious task - to coordinate the publicly declared ethnic tradition with the requirements of the consumerist modern society. However, the ritual model of the Rasos or Kupolė feast which by years was popularized among the enthusiasts of the national folklore movement is unfit for the mass town festival. Therefore, it is a difficult task to find a compromise suitable for the national culture between the determination of the folkloristic movement to preserve the "real" rituals, the consumerist nature of the present day town community and the attempts of the businessmen to benefit maximally from the feast. The example of the successive solution can be found in the Jonava town where the organizers of the present day mass celebration of the St John's Day combine the earlier traditions and the needs of the modern consumerist society.
The spatial structures of European urban festive rituals
In this presentation I will use the accepted anthropological literature as well as my own fieldwork investigations in order to study the different spatial structures of European urban festive rituals.
In this presentation I will use the accepted anthropological literature as well as my own fieldwork investigations in order to study the different spatial structures of European urban festive rituals. I will first propose to browse an extensive list of the different possible structures of rituals. Then I will concentrate on some specific examples in European folklore. In particular, I will differentiate between linear and concentric models, using two examples in Scottish folklore: the "folk-football" and the "common ridings". I will compare this Scottish material with other examples in France and Italy and I will propose some possible interpretations to explain the historical evolution and the generalization of some specific spatial structures of the rituals in European urban festivals. I will compare old and new rituals and I will also try to interpret the symbolical meanings of the spatial structures I observe, especially paying attention to rituals as a possible embodiment of the traditional urban-rural dichotomy and of some other key dualities.
Being on the festival
Today one of the most striking features of the festival is that it takes place. This also makes the festival present as a sensual object. This paper examines ways of dwelling in three different festivals.
Some places is always better suited to the festivals than others. This is also the case for the three different festivals: Bergen food festival, the Speckfest, and Somerset food festival. When the first took place in the City of Bergen in Norway, the next one is placed in the Alps in Sud Tyrol in Italy, when the third one is in Somerset, West of England.
It turned out that the current location of the three festivals in no way was random. The festival was located in very special places, and at selected places, even in global terms. When Bergen food festival was placed on Bryggen in the City of Bergen, included on the UNESCOs world heritage list. The Speckfest was placed directly underneath the Dolomites, the mountain range in the Alps declared a UNESCOs world heritage site in 2009. The third festival, however, had a more diffuse localisation.
In this paper I discuss empirically ways of dwelling in various festivals: one in the city, one in a small local community, and one in a small town. Some of the consideration will be in how the place of dwelling seems to be taken for granted by the festival, and the festival visitors. I will also discuss the finding by different theoretical approaches and concept of dwelling. Here the main focus will be on dwelling connected to the body, moving, and the materiality; and mainly the material as a 'sensual materiality'. This makes the festival in to a sensual place and also a sensual object of taste, smell, touch and emotions.
Invasion under control: pilgrims and saints at the festival of the miracle in Salta City, Argentina
Based on ethnographic data, the presentation focusses on the practices of dwelling the city of Salta during the festival of the patron Saints, highlighting the dialectic between the folk invasion by pilgrims and their staff and the political and religious control of the event.
Few days before September the 15th, many thousands of people arrive in Salta for the Festival of the Lord and the Lady of the Miracle, patrons of both the city and the province, in North Western Argentina.
The groups of pilgrims come from the entire Province, as the far villages of the Chaco plain, the Valleys, the Andean Highlands and Mountains. They enter the city by walking, riding horses or bicycling, playing drums, holding the flag of their local community and the statues of their Saints and Ladies, which belong to the community or to the single pilgrims. They camp in different public and private places in the City, such as schoolyards and gymnasiums, or empty storehouse and garages.
Analysing ethnographic data, the presentation focusses on the practices of dwelling the city during the festive time, which involve complex meshwork of people, but also their horses, bikes and staff, the statues of their Saints, their relatives who migrated to Salta. Showing how these meshes occupy places and move in the urban space will allow us to point out the dialectic between the folk invasion and the political and religious control of the event. Indeed, the authorities of the provincial Catholic Church and government organize and lead the official procession in the city centre in the attempt to unify the different flows of the pilgrimage into a mass of followers. However, many of the pilgrims scatter instead of participate in it and their meshes spread around the urban space.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.