Reclaiming cultural space through performance : the intercultural activities of the Ghana Dance Ensemble (1964-2013)

Rashida, Resario (2018-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation examines the intercultural practices of the Ghana Dance Ensemble (GDE) from 1964 to 2014. Intercultural performance, often defined as an intentional artistic encounter between diverse cultural sensibilities, has become important in the increasingly globalising world. In recent decades, intercultural performance has attracted a wealth of scholarship and theoretical attempts, as theorists investigate the nature and purpose of such encounters. Such scholarship on intercultural performances has largely come from the Western world as a result of the pioneering work in ‘conscious cultural exchange’ by practitioners like Antonin Artaud, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchkine and others in the twentieth century and into the 21st century. While critical interculturalism has concentrated on the need for a more nuanced and balanced view of intercultural theatre practice and scholarship, it appears to have neglected intercultural practices between cultures within a nation. By investigating the intercultural activities of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, I set out to address the gap with a micro-concentration in this study. I argue that, since the diverse ethnic groups within Ghana have distinct cultural traditions and languages, interactions between these cultures at the level of performance, qualify for discussion as intercultural performance rather than Rustom Bharucha’s ‘intracultural’ performance. In order to understand the nature of the intercultural activities of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, I define the inter-ethnic performance activities of the group within the nation as micro-intercultural performance, and the international exchanges and performance activities as macro-intercultural performance. This view of inter-ethnic performance as intercultural performance at the micro-level suggests that parallels exist between discourses on intercultural practice at the macro-level, and inter-ethnic performance within the nation. Matrixing postcolonial theory and intercultural performance theory, this qualitative single-case study adopts an interpretivist paradigm to examine both the micro- and macro-intercultural performance activities of the GDE. Through discourse analysis, I examine the historical conditions that led to the formation of the GDE and how macro-intercultural issues of power relations, ethics of representation and cultural hegemony find resonances at the micro-level due to ethnic differences. Furthermore, the GDE’s position as a postcolonial product cannot be overlooked when discussing its external relations; exchanges and festival participation, with imperialistic cultures that have a tendency of ‘othering’ foreign cultures. The ethnic diversity of the GDE and its multi-ethnic repertoire of dances, and musical and vocal styles, present a utopian view of the nation as a perfect example of the concept of unity in diversity. However, the reality of ethnic difference, as experienced and performed by the members of the GDE, fractures this utopian view of the company and the nation at large. In its fifty years’ existence the GDE, with its micro-intercultural performance practices, has succeeded in bringing diverse indigenous cultural traditions of Ghana to Ghanaians for mutual appreciation, even as the members work through their own internal ethnic differences. The study also reveals that, while the GDE exercises its own form of agency in macro-intercultural encounters, the company is not shielded from the hegemonic constructs with which its European partners approach the exchange. That notwithstanding, there seems to be a meeting ground between the GDE’s focus on authenticity and that of international festival organisers. While the GDE by design promotes authentic Ghanaian cultural traditions, festival organisers ride on such authentic traditions to promote their events. This study contributes to scholarship on intercultural performance by concentrating on micro-level encounters and drawing parallels between encounters at the macroand micro-levels. It concludes that micro-level intercultural performance may hold the key to addressing ethical issues in macrolevel intercultural performance discourse.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis ondersoek die interkulturele gebruike vanaf 1964 tot 2014 van die Ghana Dance Ensemble (GDE). Interkulturele performance, wat dikwels gedefinieer word as intensionele, artistieke kontak tussen diverse kulture, het in die toenemend globaliserende wêreld al hoe belangriker geword. In die onlangse dekades het interkulturele performance a magdom navorsing en teoretiese ondersoeke ontlok soos teoretici die aard en doel van hierdie tipe kontakte ondersoek. Hierdie ondersoeke oor interkulturele performances was meestal afkomstig vanuit die Westerse wêreld as gevolg van die pioniersrol van “bewustelike kulturele wisseling” van praktisyns soos Antonin Artaud, Peter Brook, Ariane Mnouchine en ander in die twintigste eeu tot in die 21ste eeu. Terwyl kritiese interkulturalisme gekonsentreer het op die noodsaaklikheid van ‘n meer genuanseerde en gebalanseerde uitkyk op interkulturele teaterpraktyke en navorsing, blyk dit dat interkulturele praktyke tussen kulture binne die nasiestaat afgeskeep is. Die gaping van die mikro-konsentrasie sal aangespreek word deur die interkulturele aktiwiteite van die Ghana Dance Ensemble te ondersoek. Ek redeneer dat, aangesien daar diverse groepe in Ghana is met hul eiesoortige kulturele tradisies en tale, performance-interaksies tussen hierdie kulturele nie ”intrakulturele” performances is soos deur Rustom Bharucha uitgestip is nie, maar eerder kwalifiseer as interkulturele performances. Om die aard van die interkulturele aktiwiteite van die Ghana Dance Ensemble te verstaan, het ek die inter-etniese performance-aktiwiteite binne die nasie as mikrokulturele performance gedefinieer en die internasionale wisseling en performanceaktiwiteite as makro-interkulturele performance gedefinieer. Hierdie uitkyk op die inter-etniese performances as interkulturele performance op ‘n mikro-vlak, doen aan die hand dat parallelle bestaan tussen die diskoerse oor interkulturele praktyke op makro-vlak en inter-etniese performances binne die staat. Hierdie kwalitatiewe enkelgevallestudie neem die vorm van ‘n interpretativistiese paradigma aan deur postkoloniale teorie en interkulturele performance teorie in ‘n matriks te verweef om sodoende beide die mikro- en makro-interkulturele performance-aktiwiteite van die GDE te bestudeer. Ek sal deur middel van diskoersanalise die historiese omstandighede wat gelei het tot die skepping van die Ghana Dance Ensemble ondersoek, asook die wyse hoe makro-interkulturele kwessies van magsverhoudings die etiek van uitbeelding en kulturele hegemonie op ‘n makro-vlak weens etniese verskille resoneer. Die GDE se posisie as ‘n postkoloniale produk kan nie misgekyk word waar die eksterne verhoudings bespreek word nie, asook die wisselwerking en deelnames aan feeste waar imperialistiese kulture die geneigdheid het om vreemde kulture as dié vn die “ander” te sien. Die etniese diversiteit van die Ghana Dance Ensemble en sy multi-etniese repertoire van danse, en musikale en vokale style, bied ‘n utopiese beeld van die nasie as ‘n perfekte voorbeeld van die konsep ”eenheid in diversiteit”. Die realiteit, aan die ander kant, van etniese verskille soos dit deur die lede van die GDE beleef word, versplinter hierdie utopiese uitkyk van die geselskap en die groter nasie wat dit verteenwoordig. Gedurende die vyftigjarige bestaan van die GDE, het die mikro-interkulturele performance praktyke dit reggekry om diverse inheemse kulturele tradisies vanuit Ghana na Ghanese te bring om te waardeer, selfs al moet die lede deur hul eie interne etniese verskille werk. Die studie het ook getoon dat, alhoewel die GDE sy eie vorm van agentskap in makro-interkulturele ontmoeting het, die geselskap nie geskans is teen die hegemoniese kontruksies wat die Europese medewerkers in hul benadering tot die wisseling bring nie. Desnieteenstaande is daar ‘n gemeenskaplike grond tussen die GDE se fokus op outentisiteit en die internasionale feeste se organiseerders. In essensie fokus die GDE op die bevordering van outentieke Ghanese kulturele tradisies, terwyl die feeste se organiseerders op die rug van hierdie tradisionele performances ry om hul feeste te bemark.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104916
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