This article focuses on funerals and the performance of collective memory across cultures. According to Roach, written literature is not the only way to transmit culture, and he considers the significance of other cultural forms such as dance, storytelling and speech. Invoking Certeau’s theories regarding the ‘practice of everyday life’, he considers the way spectators may become actors in these cultural rituals. Roach elaborates on performance as a ‘non-identical repetition’, that always functions as a variation on that which came before it. The essay also considers the way that communities can attempt to define their own culture by actively selecting what they will transmit through performance. Using examples of cultural exchange from Northern Europe, Africa and the Americas, Roach notes the way in which funerals employ a variety of performative methods, such as poetry, music, and dramatic ceremonies. Roach also considers the practice of cultural appropriation, particularly focusing on surrogation, a term he uses to describe the practice of substituting one person for another in performance. He argues that the trade in culture in the Circum-Atlantic world is not always evenly balanced.
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- Culture and Performance in the Circum-Atlantic World
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