The Art of Tradition

Ferdinand de Jong

in Masquerades of Modernity

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780748633197
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670642 | DOI:
The Art of Tradition

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Inspired by initiation ceremonies and masked performances, artists in Casamance depict these rituals in their art. This chapter analyzes how these works of art are given various, contradictory meanings depending on the context in which they are shown. It shows how the depiction of secret rituals is part of the widely shared sense that such rituals will eventually vanish in the process of ‘modernization’. It is feared that such ‘traditions’ come to signify ‘locality’, even if they are not capable of producing it. However, in spite of the modernist expectation that rituals will disappear in the onslaught of ‘modernization’, they do in fact have a future as ‘traditions’ and continue to escape their contextualization.

Keywords: initiation; masked performance; artworks; secret rituals

Chapter.  5033 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: African Studies

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