The Güegüencista Experience: Masquerade, Embodiment, and Decolonization in Early Twenty-First Century Nicaragua
Adam, Maxwell John Roger
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This thesis is about exploring and theorizing about the contemporary meanings and (re)production of El Güegüense, a politically charged ancient Nicaraguan dance-drama. The ethnographic affair revolves around the researcher’s experiences learning the Güegüense tradition at the Nicaraguan Academy of Dance in Managua. Utilizing “the apprenticeship” as methodology, which has perhaps most effectively been teased out in Loïc Wacquant’s (2004) Body and Soul, the researcher fleshes out under what circumstances one becomes a practitioner of the Güegüense tradition, what it means to be a cultural performer, and whether this ancient physical tradition still demonstrates and embodies its anti-colonial themes. After conducting interviews with leading practitioners, the author utilizes the performance as a vector of knowledge and speaks not only to how the performance culturally manifests but also to how contested its meanings truly are, as well as the recent depoliticizing of the performance, which it is argued is a direct result of the state becoming involved with this ancient physical tradition.