Performative Ethnography: An Experiment in Learning

Publication Year:
1989
Usage 4
Abstract Views 4
Repository URL:
https://openworks.wooster.edu/independentstudyarchive/169
Author(s):
Somers, Caroline A.
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis deals with the use of perf ormative ethnography as a teaching tool. Drawing on t he theories of Turner, Shechner, and Bruner it argues that performance of ethnographic material can instigate reflexivity and dramatic empathy which provide a deeper understanding of the experience of another person and his/her indigenous culture. A description of the Zinacantan ritual of the Epiphany change of office ceremony for two Alfereces was adapted into scrip t from Vogt's Torillas for the Gods (1976) and performed by a group of college students. Interviews were held afterwards, and participant observation was conducted on the site of the performance. Results show that the performance o f the ceremony increased awareness of emotion and motivation which accompanied native participation in such a ritual, as well as enticing reflexive awareness of American culture and religion in opposition to that of Zinacantan. Further exploration is encouraged in the use of this teaching tool, and use in conjunction with education through traditional methods is suggested.