The secret exposed: revelation and recognition of intangible heritage in Senegal

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Abstract

In 2005 UNESCO declared The Kankurang Masquerade and the Mandinko Initiation Ritual World Heritage. In this article, we examine how the patrimonialisation of this masquerade has resulted in its increased commodification. Rejecting the idea of an “original” culture, this article seeks to contribute to current debates on the commodification of heritage which do not oppose culture to commodity but sees them as mutually constitutive. In this context the objectification of heritage is not presented as detrimental to cultural change, but seen as constitutive of it. Focussing on the objectification of the masquerade through the gaze, the article demonstrates that the masqueraders themselves have adopted another scopic regime to seek recognition for their art. With this case study we hope to challenge overly pessimistic readings of objectification that seem to be premised on the idea that the cultural transformation only leads to loss.
Translated title of the contributionThe secret exposed: revelation and recognition of intangible heritage in Senegal
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)98-123
Number of pages8
JournalGradhiva:Revue d'Anthropologie et Museologie Paris
Volume18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Intangible Heritage
  • masquerade
  • secret
  • commodification
  • Senegal

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