Performance and Imagination: Toward an Anthropology of the Spectacular and the Mundane

Essay Excerpt

We propose that the anthropology of performance meshes with the anthropology of experience in the theater of imagery. It is through performances, whether individual or collective, that humans project images of themselves and the world to their audiences. The constructions created and presented by performances may be the performances themselves, as in the ephemeral constructions of theater and music; or they maybe more durable products, such as paintings or sculptures. When we observe performances and physical constructions, we experience them as mental imagery. When we self-consciously monitor our own performances, we reexperience the imagery that we think they project to audiences. Thus, performances may weave complex webs of interaction and experience, all mediated through imagery. (Jankowiak and Palmer, 226)

About the Author

Jankowiak is a Professor at The University of Nevada Las Vegas. His research interests are: Urban anthropology, charismatic movements, human sexuality, family systems, complex societies; China, Inner Mongolia.

"I am a relentless field ethnographer who is currently working on a variety of projects that range from doing a restudy of Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous region, People's Republic of China, to writing an ethnography of a specific Mormon polygamous community. I am also conducting research for a book tentatively titled A Case for Emotional Monogamy. It is my contention that we Homo sapiens are not sexually monogamous as a species as much as we are emotionally monogamous. The book explores the implications of this issue for understanding human sexual behavior."

Palmer is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. His focus was in Linguistic anthropology. 

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