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By Yolanda Covington-Ward

In Gesture and Power Yolanda Covington-Ward examines the standard embodied practices and performances of the BisiKongo humans of the decrease Congo to teach how their gestures, dances, and spirituality are severe in mobilizing social and political motion. Conceiving of the physique because the middle of study, a catalyst for social motion, and as a conduit for the social building of fact, Covington-Ward makes a speciality of particular flash issues within the final 90 years of Congo's afflicted historical past, while embodied functionality was once used to stake political claims, foster dissent, and implement energy. within the Twenties Simon Kimbangu all started a Christian prophetic circulation according to spirit-induced trembling, which swept in the course of the decrease Congo, subverting Belgian colonial authority. Following independence, dictator Mobutu Sese Seko required voters to bop and sing nationalist songs day-by-day as a way of holding political regulate. extra lately, embodied functionality has back stoked reform, as nationalist teams akin to Bundu dia Kongo recommend for a go back to precolonial non secular practices and non-Western gestures equivalent to conventional greetings. In exploring those embodied expressions of Congolese supplier, Covington-Ward presents a framework for figuring out how embodied practices transmit social values, identities, and cultural background all through Africa and the diaspora.
 

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Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo

In Gesture and tool Yolanda Covington-Ward examines the standard embodied practices and performances of the BisiKongo humans of the decrease Congo to teach how their gestures, dances, and spirituality are severe in mobilizing social and political motion. Conceiving of the physique because the heart of study, a catalyst for social motion, and as a conduit for the social development of fact, Covington-Ward makes a speciality of particular flash issues within the final 90 years of Congo's bothered heritage, while embodied functionality used to be used to stake political claims, foster dissent, and implement energy.

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Extra info for Gesture and Power: Religion, Nationalism, and Everyday Performance in Congo

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Moreover, social positions are made and unmade through everyday interactions with others; authority depends not only on who you are, what position you occupy, or what you have, but it is also based on your own cultural performances and others’ responses to them. Methods and Travels My approach to my research project was rooted in anthropological methods such as participant observation and individual interviews, combined with archival documentation. While I left for the Congo with an interest in “Kongo traditional dances,” most of the themes that appear in this book arose through an emergent, inductive process rather than being imposed from the start.

A part of this shift is renewed attention to power relations in practices of religion (Edgell 2012). The body plays a significant role in religious practice and can be the foundation of larger claims to power. Paul Stoller’s ethnography (1995) of the Hauka movement and spirit possession in a Songhay town in the Republic of Niger explores how spirits of Europeans (called Hauka, a name applied to the spirit mediums as well) possess devotees who then mimic various colonial personages, particularly the military.

However, months before this, in September, as I walked through Luozi with Ne Nkamu, my chief cultural consultant, music/ Kikongo language tutor, and friend, we passed through the yard of an older couple. When Ne Nkamu introduced us, the elderly gentleman took off his hat, smiled, and said something about the prophecy coming true. A few days later, Ne Nkamu and I crossed the path of a group of men at work on con38 • chapter 1 structing a building. As I introduced myself and tried my fledgling Kikongo by asking them their clans, some of the men responded and then asked me the same question.

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