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Title:The power of a mask: a contextual analysis of the Senegalese 'Kumpo' mask performance
Author:Jong, Ferdinand deISNI
Periodical:Focaal: tijdschrift voor antropologie
Geographic term:Senegal
Abstract:The 'Kumpo' mask performance was introduced to Jola villages in Casamance, Senegal, by young men, thus enabling them to articulate a change in their status within the local social structure brought about by their participation in capitalist relations of production. At a later stage, the 'Kumpo' helped regulate the labour migration of young women, that is, their participation in the capitalist economy. Recently, the mask performance has begun to serve other objectives, such as the expression of 'authenticity' for both tourist audiences as well as for locals in cultural festivals. All of these performance contexts are contemporaneous. From its inception the 'Kumpo' performance was intricately linked to the dynamics of the market economy and has been used in various ways to manage the impact of capitalism. The modalities of the relation between mask performers and audience depend on the context of the performance, and the 'Kumpo' is attributed widely divergent meanings in various contexts. While the masks used in the 'Kumpo' performance have never become commodities themselves, the performance has. Commoditization has resulted in a radical transformation of the mask-audience relationship, and has weakened the performers' ability to wield authority over their audience. The article draws on a PhD thesis in progress and one-and-a-half years' fieldwork conducted in Casamance at different times between 1990 and 1995. Bibliogr., notes, ref. (A revised edition of this article is published in: Cahiers d'études africaines, vol. 39, cah. 153 (1999), p. 49-71.)