By Nehemia Levtzion
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Although Dunn was forthright in anticipating the potential manipulation and co-optation of these social groups by politicians and state agencies, he however minimizes their ideological commitment by his sweeping generalization about co-optation. Instead of co-optation, some elements of these groups may indeed be accused of corruption as the proceeds from Carnival are neither evenly distributed nor are the workers adequately compensated afterward. 43 Armstrong examines the CARNIVAL IN AFRICA AND ITS DIASPORA 17 global economy’s effect on the local pessimism that stems from frustrations about the lack of reforms and the increasing possibility of empowerment based on “the development of a sophisticated leisure market centered on the African cultural heritage” (140).
From their focus on ethnopolitics against racism, identitarian discourses, and positive representations of Africa, to the critique of Ilê Aiyê’s co-optation by state apparatuses, the various studies highlight not only the pleasures but the challenges of Ilê Aiyê’s growing pains. In his Anthropologie du Carnival (2002), Agier conducts a focused study on Ilê Aiyê as a cultural space—theorizing its symbolism as an embodiment of a town, a festivity, and representation of Africa in Bahia. Divided into ten parts, namely, location, scene, urban invention, foundation, movement, linkages, ritual practice, rites, style, and politics, the text navigates a detailed historicism of Ilê Aiyê, paying special attention to its foundations and continuities as a “family” and “organization,” while drawing on its ethnographic essentials to draw conclusions about Carnival as a global phenomenon.
It is crazy because our social world . . 40 Robert Stam equally contests these simplistic binary oppositions when he argues that Bakhtin foreshadowed poststructuralism in his assessment that the “inside/outside oppositions”41 are untenable. DaMatta suggests that these new possibilities offered by Carnival are limitless and should not be seen as a simple inversion of one order by the other. Despite these ambiguities, DaMatta, in a recent reflection, argues that no other cultural form supersedes Carnival: “This Carnival, with its generous leniency, with its magnificent anti-bourgeois spirit, with its attitude resolutely opposed to utilitarian reason, with its tendency toward ambiguity, mythical representations .
Ancient Ghana and Mali by Nehemia Levtzion