Johannes Fabian’s (1990) celebrated Power and performance tells the story of how an inquiry into the meaning of a proverb led to the development and performance of a piece of theatre. During a meal with some of his local friends and informants in Shaba, Congo, Fabian was offered a piece of chicken; when he insisted that it should be divided and shared with others, the answer he got was “le pouvoir se mange entier”. Sensing that he picked up a proverb—something articulating a deep cultural semantics—Fabian shifted into his anthropologist mode and asked what the proverb actually meant. The answer could not be given in simple conversation, and his friends/informants (members of a local theatre troupe) argued that the best way of explaining the complex sociocultural meanings of the saying would be a play, with a plot and characters, various scenes and storylines, and a punchline. The play was developed, staged, and eventually even broadcasted on TV. Power and performance tells the story of how theatre emerged out of an inquiry into sociocultural meaning.
Bauman, Richard, and Charles Briggs
1990 “Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life.” Annual review of anthropology 19. 59–88.
1979 “Language structure and linguistic ideology”. P. ClyneW. HanksW. and C. Hofbauer, eds. The elements: A parasession on linguistic units and levels. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society 1979 193–247.
2003 “Indexical order and the dialectics of social life”. Language and communication 23:3–4. 193–229.
Silverstein, MichaelGreg Urban
eds.1996Natural histories of discourse. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.[ p. 176 ]