Experiential and Performative Anthropology in the Classroom : Engaging the Legacy of Edith and Victor Turner
Water and Potato Chips: Classroom Ritual Reenactments as Forms of Pedagogical Resistance, Michelle C. Johnson.
Abstract: Michelle Johnson participated in her first ethnographic performance as an undergraduate, an experience that shaped her as a teacher-scholar. A decade later as a professor, she incorporated Turnerian ethnographic performances in her own courses. Theory in Anthropology students perform the Victor Turner Memorial Sacrifice, a West African-style sacrifice in honor of Victor and Edith Turner and Anthropology of Religion students perform pilgrimage at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Johnson considers what Turnerian ethnographic performances in and beyond the classroom teach students about religion and ritual specifically, and about life and learning more generally. A form of pedagogical resistance, ethnographic performances destabilize the centrality of the text, engage the body and senses, and disrupt normative structures of knowledge and power. In so doing, they honor the people with whom anthropologists work, for whom embodied, experiential ways of knowing and learning are the norm rather than the exception.
The Smell of Smudge and the Work of Smoke: Reenacting Native American Ritual in an Anthropology Course, Edmund (Ned) Searles.
Abstract: Drawing on exercises performed in several of his classes at Bucknell University, Ned Searles shows how ethnographic performances provide students with a set of learning experiences that texts, class discussions, and films cannot reproduce. In exposing his students to ethnographically-informed sensory experiences such as a prolonged moment of silence, the manipulation of one’s qi, and a thanksgiving ceremony involving smoke and prayer, he shows how performing ethnography in the classroom can broaden student perspectives, cultivate communitas, and encourage students to think more deeply—and question more critically—their taken-for-granted assumptions about the world. One of performances is a smudge ceremony that draws on elements of Haudenosaunee spirituality and cosmology. It is designed to enable students to experience firsthand how and why the Haudenosaunee, an indigenous people with longstanding ties to Bucknell, value rituals—as do other Native American groups—as key elements in the quest for cultural autonomy and collective resilience.
Native American Spirituality, Smudge Ceremony, Embodied Pedagogy, Ethnographic Performances, Haudenosaunee Spirituality, Cosmology, Native Americans, Pedagogical Resistance, Turnerian Ethnographic Performances, Performance, Ritual
Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology
Sociology & Anthropology
Sociology & Anthropology
Johnson, Michelle C. and Searles, Edmund, "Experiential and Performative Anthropology in the Classroom : Engaging the Legacy of Edith and Victor Turner" (2020). Faculty Books. 85.