Hidden Side of Christian Festivals

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It is one of the paths, but only one, and if we have a number of people all round the base of the mountain, the shortest path to the top for each man is the path, which opens before him.

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It would be foolish to have the idea that we must go and drag a man all round the base of the mountain in order to make him walk up our particular path. The effort to bring to the knowledge of God people who are ignorant of His ways is a grand and noble action; that we should by deed as well as by word preach our belief that there is a God, and that to live as He would have men live is the only sure way to comfort and peace — that is a noble work; but to try to convert a man who is already good along his own line in order to make him good along ours is not a sensible thing to do.

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The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals

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In an earlier book, I studied the widespread tradition of moros y cristianos [mock battles of] Moors and Christians in the light of James Scott's distinction between public and hidden transcripts. In the relationship between dominant and subordinate groups, the public transcript is what each may say and do in the presence of the other. The hidden transcripts of each side are what each may say and do in the absence of the other. Of particular interest to the student of folk theater are "the manifold strategies by which subordinate groups manage to insinuate their resistance, in disguised forms, into the public transcript.

This victory explains the early introduction of the theme to Mexico by the conquistadors. The hidden transcript is often that of reconquest: the expulsion of invading foreigners by the native owners of the land. This eviction explains the widespread adoption of the tradition by the indigenous peoples of Mexico: as Spanish Catholics drove out Moors, so might Mexican Indians drive out Spaniards.

The hidden transcript can be variously signaled. The dancers' masks may be reversed so that the Christian warriors have dark skin and the heathen villains have beards and rosy cheeks; the victorious Christian troops may be identified as Aztecs by decorative emblems sewn into their costumes; or the marginal actions of the "clowns" may undermine the scripted Spanish victory. While the public transcript may be safely recorded in a prescribed text, the hidden transcript generally finds expression only in signs visible in performance. Danzas dances and fiestas of Moors and Christians are not attached to any particular season of the year.

I have seen them on patronal saints' days, at Corpus Christi, and during Carnival.


Hidden Side of Christian Festivals - C. W. Leadbeater - Google книги

One of my goals in this book is to apply the heuristic principle of public and hidden transcripts more broadly to the folk theater of these three festivals. It is not a matter of bringing prescriptive theory to the understanding of fiestas. The fiestas themselves take precedence over theory, but Scott's distinction helps me better explain what many years of participant observation of fiestas have taught me.


In terms of methodology, for example, I have learned to pay more heed to the dramatic action of a fiesta and to the casual remarks of performers and audience than to the standard explanations offered to and by clergy, government agents, anthropologists, and other outsiders. I have learned to look for those details of performance that are quietly at odds with the public transcript, for it is amid these dissonances—just because they are apt to be regarded as innocuous, garbled, or irrelevant by scholars and others in authority—that folk performers are most likely to insinuate their hidden transcript into the public square.

But Scott's insight alone does not explain how—to use another phrase from my earlier book—I "read the mask" of a fiesta.

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Hidden Side of Christian Festivals Hidden Side of Christian Festivals
Hidden Side of Christian Festivals Hidden Side of Christian Festivals
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