Ritual and Democracy - Protests, Publics and Performances - Sarah M. Pike

Ritual and Democracy - Protests, Publics and Performances - Sarah M. Pike

7. Trans-Indigenous Festivals: Democracy and Emplacement

Ritual and Democracy - Protests, Publics and Performances - Sarah M. Pike

Graham Harvey [+-]
Open University
Graham Harvey is Professor of Religious Studies at the Open University, UK. His research is concerned with the performance and rhetoric of identities among Jews, Pagans and indigenous peoples. He is particularly interested in the 'new animism', embracing relational and material approaches to interactions between humans and the larger than human world. His recent publications include The Handbook of Contemporary Animism(2013) and Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life (2013).


Indigenous cultural festivals attract international performers and audiences. They include events as diverse as First Nation reserve powwows, the annual Riddu Riđđu festival organised by Sámi in arctic Norway, and the biennial Origins Festival in London. These events illustrate a cultural range by including diverse genres of music, dance, film, theatre, costume, workshops and youth camps. This chapter considers the varied ways in which such festivals extend democratic possibilities for participants and their communities. Such possibilities begin with the recovery of cultural pride even while at the margins of dominant (dominating) societies. They include opportunities to debate issues confronting many Indigenous people(s). Over against the perception that Indigeneity is definitively about shared experiences of marginalisation and colonisation, festivals push the notion of place as larger-than-human or multi-species community. The chapter will illustrate this with a Mi’kmaq celebration of the flight of an eagle, a Maori greeting to mountains, a Sámi expression of concern for fish, and a Maluyligal dance for/as ancestors. The chapter will argue that trans-Indigenous approaches to democracy may be seen in efforts to increase human inclusivity and in the inclusion of other-than-human persons. Within this, it is the pervasive Indigenous understanding of emplacement most radically confronts cultural assumptions that place is mere scenery or a resource for exploitation.

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Harvey, Graham. 7. Trans-Indigenous Festivals: Democracy and Emplacement. Ritual and Democracy - Protests, Publics and Performances. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 139-159 Sep 2020. ISBN 9781781799758. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39694. Date accessed: 05 Oct 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39694. Sep 2020

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