Masquerades of Modernity: Power and Secrecy in Casamance, Senegal (International African Library)
How do those on the margins of modernity face the challenges of globalization? This book demonstrates that secrecy is one of the means by which a society on the fringe of modernity produces itself as locality. Focusing on initiation rituals, masked performances and modern art, this study shows that rituals and performances long deemed obsolete, serve the insertion of their performers in the world at their own terms.The Jola and Mandinko people of the Casamance region in Senegal have always used their rituals and performances to incorporate the impact of Islam, colonialism, capitalism, and contemporary politics. Their performances of secrecy have accommodated these modern powers and continue to do so today. The performers incorporate the modern and redefine modernity through secretive practices. Their traditions are not modern inventions, but traditional ways of dealing with modernity. This book will interest anthropologists, historians, political scientists and all those studying how globalisation affects peripheral societies. It shows that secrecy, performed as a weapon of the weak, empowers their performers. Secrecy serves to mark boundaries and define the local in the global.
Ferdinand de Jong is Lecturer in Anthropology, School of World Art Studies and Museology, University of East Anglia.