The Lastovo Carnival: an Ethnochoreological Study
“The Lastovo Carnival: an Ethnochoreological Study” is an investigation of contemporary carnival customs on the island of Lastovo, which have been recognized as a representative intangible cultural heritage, and as such, introduced into the list of the protected intangible cultural goods by the Croatian Ministry of Culture.
In the extensive introductory chapter, the author discusses the methodologies used to conduct research on dance events, the concerns and dilemmas faced by the scholarly community, cultural tourism, and her own experience of field work. Employing various approaches to conduct her dance research, the author opts for contextualized research, insisting on the connection between diachronic and synchronic perspectives, reflexivity, and the intertwining of theoretical knowledge with the questioning of it in practice.
The author next gives an overview of the history of the Lastovo Carnival (poklad). She provides a critical look into written sources from the 19th and 20th centuries, pointing out the deficient descriptions of the female participants, the so-called pretty masques (lijepe maske). In the carnival context, Lastovo is a unique example of a carnival where women perform a chain dance using handkerchiefs as substitutes for swords, which are typically used in similar chain dances performed by men (the exception is the Kotor Carnival, where the members of the Boka Navy also perform a chain dance using handkerchiefs). In the majority of the existing ethnological, ethnotheatrological and ethnochoreological studies, the focus is on discovering the common mythological background and characteristics of the Carnival roles and events, which has reduced all the sword dances to the same category, disregarding sex and gender differences, as well as choreological differences between particular performances. The example of Lastovo’s pretty masques and their female chain dance, which has so far been neglected by scholars, appears to be unique, not only in the Croatian context, but in the European context as well, and points to a certain androcentrism in both the Carnival practice and the scientific interest in it. This study takes into consideration the other, overlooked female side of the Carnival as well.
Autor: Iva Niemčić, PhD
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