Performance Ritual and Slavery


I am doing a reading group right now and we are reading texts around slavery

We read Debt by David Graber, Slavery And Social DeathBy Orlando Patterson and this week Scenes Of SubjectionBy Saidiya Hartman.

One thing the Patternson and Hartman have discuss is that making someone a slave involves a process,,,, it just does not happen by itself

Patternson focus on the ritual. That turning someone into a slave involves various rituals. It is as if this change in the social order from a human into a slave needs to be mediated by a ritual (because it is

Hartman focuses on performance. That the slave defines herself in terms of acting a certain artificial way. This could be in singing songs that occult terrible treatment, this could be in self harm, this could be work practices. This performance is to subvert the order imposed upon them by the dominant power.

So in one case order is a given, in another case order is constructed, in one case ritual creates order, in another performance subverts order or refines order. What is ritual, what is performance?

There is a relation between performance and ritual and society itself is performed or is a ritual … perhaps it is how we co construct our world.

Leave a Reply