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1 RESIDING IN THE BORDER: ONE LATINAS HOMAGE TO VICTOR TURNER, MICHEL FOUCAULT, AND HER JOURNEY By DEBORAH ALVAREZ CARON A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007
2 2007 Deborah Alvarez Caron
3 To my mom, Mami and my grandmother, Abi. They gave me life.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The entire process of receiving this maste rs degree would not be possible without the continued support and encouragement of Dr. Z oharah Simmons and Dr. Gene Thursby, my esteemed committee. They have served as mentors academically, to be sure. However, perhaps, their greatest influence is the way in their lives and political activism as scholars generate hope for academe. I would like also to acknowledge my mothers continued financial and emotional support when faced with risks I had to take on a jour ney that led me away from and back to the completion of this work. I want to thank all of the persons who co mprise the phenomenal city of Gainesville, Florida. It is my favorite place on Earth and my entrance to adulthood would not have been quite right without my discovery of this unique and magical place. More specifically, I want to thank Norma and Sidney Homa n who believed in whatever weirdness I might bring the Across town Repertory Theatre stage. I also thank my friends who have nurtured and listened to me through the years. Of particular note is Laura Higgins, for her support during the creative process of the perfor mance, and Victor Tarv er, for his technical mastery and unrelenting belief in me. Finally, I thank the Black Panthers, whose cour age to stand against the forces that oppress in their own country remains an example to me of what radical activism can achieveagainst all odds.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF OBJECTS................................................................................................................ .........6 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................... .8 2 THE BODY....................................................................................................................... .....12 Michel Foucault................................................................................................................ ......12 Latina/O Voices................................................................................................................ ......18 3 RITUAL......................................................................................................................... .........28 Beginnings..................................................................................................................... .........29 Journeying..................................................................................................................... ..........33 Play, Drama, Symbol............................................................................................................ ..37 Drama/ Performance/ Ritual...................................................................................................40 4 PERFORMANCE...................................................................................................................44 5 CONCLUSION..................................................................................................................... ..45 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..47 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................48
6 LIST OF OBJECTS Object page 4-1 Just Alvarez............................................................................................................... .........44
7 Abstract of Thesis Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts RESIDING IN THE BORDER: ONE LATINAS HOMAGE TO VICTOR TURNER, MICHEL FOUCAULT, AND HER JOURNEY By Deborah Alvarez Caron December 2007 Chair: Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons Cochair: Gene R Thursby Major: Religion As we have entered the dawn of a new millennium, the academic institution must continually advance the movement to listen to voices of thos e who have been historically colonized and silenced. This work makes use of the media of the wr itten word and the live performance of one individual w ho identifies as a person of mixe d culture, specifically Cuban and Puerto Rican, living in a United States that continues to consider itself a predominantly Anglo-American nation. This work hopes to pus h (with muscle) the boundaries of that space by using the work of various Latin a/o and non-Latina/o theorists to illuminate, theoretically and experientally, how such a space might look
8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This project looks at, examines, and ponders how a performance can achieve a muchneeded reconciliation that occurs in the Self/ Su bject/ Person. Performance, or ritual, can be used as a tool for exploring the self or assi sts by empowering a person to conquer a fear they might face within themselves. Performance as a force can act as means by which the Self demonstrates the Self to It-Self. It is this very reflexivity th at is described as what can be experienced in the liminal or i n-between space of the theatrical stage. It is here, on that stage, where the potential to deve lop or experience a transformati on is offered through ritual a movement through time and space. Performance can serve an overt religious f unction in certain established traditions (Narayanan 2003:503; 506). Specifi cally, Dr. Narayanan points to the tradition of Hinduisms use of dance, while simultaneously pointing to the need for the field of Religious Studies as an academic discipline to acknowledge the way in which non-traditiona l texts (that is, nontraditional to the West) uses performance as well as other arts serve a religious function (499). In that same vein, Victor Turner, a renowned Ritual and Performance Studies theorist, has illustrated how liminality is a quality that an initiate possesses or resides within as she transitions from one role to anothe r. He states, Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the pos itions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial (95). I posit that a performance that I gave on Fe bruary 28, 2003 embodied this very liminal space. As it was autobiographical, it also enacte d a powerful transformation. As I read to my audience: You and I, we, will journey through the undulati ons that are my internal landscape. Some of it will be a reconciliation with parts of myself that are clear, or at least tangible. But
9 more often, it will be a reconc iliation of, a reunion with, and a revitalization of the unclear, the mixed, the impure, if you will. Victor Turners theory of liminality in his earlier work was located in the study of the Ndembu of northwestern Zambia and preoccupies itself with liminality as a phase the attendant subject or person passe s through within the groups cultura l context. My performance, however, acts as both a vehicle to the purported ot her side and as a place or destination with which one is to reach and reconcile. In other wo rds, liminality is the destination as opposed to the state one passes through. Many of the epistemologies that have aris en within postmodern and poststructualist theories suggest that borders and concre tized constructs are illusory and upon further examination reveal a more fluid or fuzzy natu re. This performance stands as a desire to become firmly entrenched in that amorphousness and ephemerality. This ritual, then, acts as a rite of passage into a state of passage. Subjectivity, or the creation of a subject, en tertains the minds of many who theorize the Self. Foucault states, One has to dispense with the constituent subject to get rid of the subject itself, thats to say, to arrive at an analysis which can account fo r the constitution of the subject within a historical framework. (1984, 175). While this idea has been crit iqued as obfuscating or dissolving the formation of the subject, hence rendering power rela tions as a web in which we are all equally caught, it does serv e to destabilize the rigid dema rcation that has traditionally existed for the subject. We can visualize the subject, here, as she who possesses the power to act, think, and speak on her own behalf and the object, as one who is acted upon. While a wholesale denial of the existence of a subject via an examination of its constitution can have dangerous implications in a political arena, for the purpose of this pr oject I invite th e fluidity of the Self that Foucault invokes in his theory of the subject.
10 Judith Butler shares some territory with F oucault. Specifically, I would like to foreground her discussion of sex as a means of entering into the deeper issu e of what gets inscribed on the body. She states: I want to ask how and why materiality has beco me a sign of irreducibi lity, that is how is it that the materiality of sex is understood as that whic h only bears cultura l constructions and, therefore, cannot be a construction?...Is ma teriality a site of su rface that is excluded from the process of construction, as th at through which and on which construction works?(1993, 28). In this packed quote, Butler asks questions about the Body that are similar to Foucaults assertion about the Subject. Just as Foucault interrogates (and criticizes) the irreducibility of the Subject, so too does Butler begin to do th is about the seemingl y irreducible Body. Talking about sex: as the traditionally static co nstruct (fluidity being re served for gender), Butler wonders how this is possibl e if sex, or the way in which certain messages are inscribed on the Body, is in fact a construction. I would like to extend this id ea to include other aspects of what might be considered irreducible. This would include ones sex bu t also, for the purposes of this project, ones Race or Ethinicity and even the c onstruct of a Singular Self. By Se lf, I suggest that a Self as a singular unit is also a constructi on. Turning to the program that I provided for the evenings performance for my audience, it says: Forces that pass through us do not dilute but fo rm us. We are the mere changlings that the world would have us be. The more I know who I amthe more unstable I become. Yet it [this idea] puts me closer to some truth or an chor I desparately need to walk around on this planet and feel o.k. The greatest anticipation for this written project is to illuminate, ach ieve, and replicate on a theoretical level what th e performance component achieved in praxis. Chapter 2 will delve into the theoretical work of Michel Foucault, Judith Bu tler, Ilan Stavans, and Gl oria Anzaldua as well
11 as other Latina/o theorists. While many others have left their mark on my mind and heart, the ones I probe are the most pertin ent to my pers onal process. The chapter that follows will take an unusual, almost literary, approach by investigating Victor Turners unfolding theore tical process around liminality. Simultaneously, I propose to consider Victor Turner as one who personifi ed his intellectual pro cess to inaugurate the conclusion of my project in which I embody my own theoretical process on a stage in the form of a ritual that moves me as a subject into a state of immoveable ephemerality. I hope this work will challenge, trouble, inspire, and question you.
12 CHAPTER 2 THE BODY How is identity formed? What is this thing called the self really about? A lofty question to be sure, one can find much of the discussion regarding the construction of a self in its respective literature discusses the body, also. The two constr ucts do not get conflated but suggest that the literatu re that speaks of bodies and identities can be found to wander in the same domain. While I will be looking at what some persons have s uggested as a viable way of understanding how these bodies ere identities get formed, I w ould like the read er to think primarily of this as an exercise in their own ability to stretch or pin down how they might see the formation of their selves, bodi es, and/or identities. This is precisely what led me to write a pe rformance that monitors this question. I found myself motivated emotionally and intellectually to delve deeply into narratives that floated in my mind. Though I can hardly enter into a parley about the artistic pro cess and its role in understanding oneself, I can speak to the intriguing effect of one being led to express, discursively and theatrically, ones gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. Michel Foucault In thinking about what constitutes the self I would like to consider a couple of approaches that are taken. Firstly, there is the contention that disc ourse does the job of constituting or identifying what the self is. Sinc e, I am specifically interested in the way(s) in which Latina (primarily mine) identity in the Un ited States is constructed, I will be navigating different Latina/o authors expos itions on such matters. However, most or all of this shall be framed by Michel Foucaults particular thought s on the bodyits formation and creation, as it were.
13 Foucault wrote on a series of different subjects but of particular import to this current effort is what he espoused in the area of the subjectivisation of the se lfboth as a discursive product and a product of the institu tions that circulate certain know ledges or discourses. One of his works that deals specifically with the latter notion can be found in Discipline and Punish in which he surmised that it was the soul wh ich was responsible for imprisoning the body as opposed to the opposite philosophical problem that has remained one of the great conundrums of western philosophythat of the body imprisoning the soul (176-177). He extends his findings and conclusions to include all institutions that were in the business of mol ding or categorizing humans. He identifies Power as the over-r iding factor constituti ng these bodies. Power relations were generative and creative as opposed to limiting. Foucault further developed this idea of generativity and subjec tivisation to extend to the realm of knowledge and what we define as knowledge. He posits th at it is power relations that create the what we classify as knowledge. The logical extension of this would be the knowle dge of what characterizes a particular self (173). While discussing the formation of the soldier in the seventeenth a nd eighteenth century, Foucault discloses what he sees, as their princi pal aim which was, an increase of the mastery of each individual over his own body. He goes on further to say: The historical moment of the disciplines wa s the moment when an art of the human body was born, which was directedat the formation of a relation that in the mechanism itself makes it more obedient as it b ecomes more useful. (181-82) Though in this particular instance, he is i llustrating the way in wh ich creating a soldier marks a certain beginning for identity formation. He is also exposing th e larger point of how disciplines which are built upon a heap of discursive formations create an individual. It is not only discourse that is forming the self but also (or perhaps more accurately) the processes that arise from these discourses that create the indi vidual. It is very seductive when seeking a
14 conceptual model or framework to encapsulate ide ntity formation or questions of the Self (self constitution) to believe one monolithic thing is re sponsible or can explain it. In other words, while I find the suggestion that disc ourse plays a huge part in the ma trix that is the Self, it would be foolish to negate the role of other factors in its constitution What makes Foucault striking within this question of discourse is that he explicates the ways in which discourse constitutes by creating the institutions, disc iplines, technologies and the physical circumstances that, perhaps more viscerally, form the subject. To look at one example, Foucault makes mention of the entanglement one can find oneself in when looking toward the jar gon-creating institutions: So that the problem arises of knowing whethe r the unity of a discour se is based not so much on the permanence and uniqueness of an object as on the space in which objects emerge and are continuous ly transformed. (1974, 32) Of late it has been accepted that the Self, then, is constituted by/ of / from various knowledges and processes that emerge from discursi ve practices existing out side of the self or through the self. How then do thes e knowledges become the processes that create and generate? Foucault offers a three-tiered system that be gins with hierarchica l observation, becomes entrenched with normalizing j udgement, and is properly ossifi ed and reinstated with the examination. Pointing to the architecture of th e prison and the Ecole Militaire, he explicates how: The perfect disciplinary appa ratus would make it possible for a single gaze to see everything constantlyThe disciplinary institut ions secreted a machinery of control that functioned like a microscope of conduct; the fine analytical division s that they created formed around an apparatus of observa tion, recording, and training. (1977, 191) While it might appear a bit extreme to turn toward the way in which prisons and other formative institutions create a self via the aforemen tioned means, it is significant to consider that the ways in which these institut ions operated are virtually identic al to the ways in which schools were formatted. Anecdotally, during a brief stin t as a public school elementary school teacher,
15 the model of observation, judging, hierarchizing, and the positive/ negative re inforcement of the preferred behavior is very much alive in th e schooling of todays young children. That is to say, the engagement of a persons soul, their insi des, and then further their will, is given over as a subject to the normalizing force that is discipline. Hierarchical observation is loca ted in an architectural structur e that lends itself to having those who are being observed become visible to those who are observing who are invisible. Foucaults famous example of this sort of st ructure was Jeremy Benthams Panopticon that made it entirely possible for the prison wardens to watch the inmates and enforce the following two tenets that generate the prisoner, the student, or the mental patient. As a minor non sequitur, Foucault mentions, At the heart of all disciplin ary systems functions a small penal mechanism. Normalizing judgement is the moment at whic h the agent vested w ith the authority to decide what is best for the subject. This ta kes myriad shapes. Ther e are the obvious examples that include the prison warden, th e teacher, the medical expert [p sychologist, physician, etc.] but there is also the possibility of s eeing the less seen forces and exampl es of this process. A larger culture makes subtle impositions in the formation of its subjects. It acts on its individuals by relying on the already in ternalized eye of th e panopticon that can only result from years of observation. Normalizing judgement acts in a gradually building capacity by providing a constant reiteration for the subjec t of its direction. Foucault speak s of the role of punishment in this process: The perpetual penality that traverses all points and supervises every instant in the disciplinary institutions compares, differentiate s, hierarchizes, homoge nizes, excludes. In short, it normalizes (1977, 195) He is pointing to the constant negative and pos itive reinforcement that creates the subject. Unlike a more negative understand ing of what the penal system achieves, he uncovered the generative process that ensues as opposed to a confining process. I would like to extend that
16 this illustration is one we can apply to the whole of a child, hu man, and adult life. If we can safely presume that every person in this current culture has passed through an institution of some sort for a significant period of time, be it a school, a penitentiary, or a mental institution, then all persons have been subjected to instances of subj ectivisation of which Fou cault speaks. Further, one can easily identify the larger culture of wh ich one is a part as a large metaor macroinstitution that serves to cr eate and generate subjects while in perhaps more subtle and imperceptible, yet still pervasive ways that create or generate as effectively. I learned very early in my life indiscernibly th at I was Cuban. This was a direct outgrowth of my mother being Cuban. I knew this because the language I spoke at home was different from the one strangers spoke outside as was our f ood and our story. In the subtlest of ways my life while beginning (at least cons ciously) in Miami, Florida of the United States was always framed by a notion of Cubanness. In the performan ce piece that acts as the primary text of this work, I hung a Cuban flag on the wall behind me to deliver this message throughout the entirety of the performance. I, also, opened the narr ative of the show with a soliloquy about some mythical and transcedant place that was very much a part of my internal landscape: Me being a Cuban Cowboy who sang Guantanamera. I lacked an awareness of the following fact when I wrote or performed this piece, but the story of my family as it has been oft-retold to me really begins with the existence of my great-grandfather who arrived (in Cuba) from Spain at the age of 14 with virtually no education to build his empire that began in the hills of Cuba. Era guajiro, we say. He was the equivalent of a Cuban redne ck, countryperson and that is precisely where I wanted my story to begin: The beginning of my storys story. It resembles an odd hologram in which one can locate no beginning or end to the story only the phenom of a story within a story.
17 This narrativizing of ones life falls di rectly into the reservoir of how Foucault characterizes part of the normalizi ng project. As he describes a function of the architecture of the prison (to render visible thos e who are inside it [1977, 190]), one is motivated to apply this image metaphorically to the proc ess of evaluating, and ultimate ly, creating the individual or subject. Telling, revealing, and c onfessing turns the outside Eye of God into an inside arbiter of what is. Put plainly, to correct and to mold one must know what they are dealing with: what needs correction needs to be revealed in the first place. Then, the way in which a person or subject describes their story, thei r reality, their history reveals w ho they are to themselves. As the subject shares the text of th eir lives so, too, do we begin to comprehend the unavoidable role that discourse plays in the understa nding of a subjects constitution. Foucault, then, speaks of the Examination. He states: It (the examination) establishes over individuals a visibil ity through which one differentiates and then judges them. That is w hy in all the mechanisms of discipline, the examination is highly ritualized. (1977, 197) While he articulates the larger thematic that an examination must include, he accurately cites the school as the site of the earlies t indoctrination and creation of the subject when he says the following: The examination in the school was a constant exchanger of knowle dge; it guaranteed the movement of knowledge from the teacher to the pupil, but it extracted from the pupil knowledge destined and reserved fo r the teacher. (1977, 198) The examination becomes a sort of feedback loop by which a subject comes to know itself as itself through the examination. Foucault observes that this pr ocess of examining establishes individuality as a documented materialization or reality. He discovers among the documents that he finds archived a certain movement or pr ogression that leads to this conclusion: The other innovations of disciplinary writing co ncerned the correlation of these elements, the accumulation of documents, their seriati on, the organization of comparative fields,
18 making it possible to classify, to form cat egories, to determine averages, to fix norms.(1977, 201) I would like to draw particular notice to this menti on of form(ing) categories. While this would hardly be a novel thought, it would bear important mention that much of the way in which understandings of the self and identity occur as a discursive practice comes directly to us from the legacy these tracts from the eighteenth century represent. Hence, I would like to accelerate the notion that much of this entire project is founded within and upon th e theoretical framework Foucault provides in his unearthing of archived da ta and subsequent evaluative process. That is, much of the theoretical literature found in queer theory, studies of ethni city, and gender, the way in which we ask questions and posit answers in a formulaic fashion around identity stems from, perhaps even sprung from, a paper trail that began in the eighteenth century and has roots in the pathologizing in which its author s engaged. Foucault can satisfactorily be located within this canon as well as be identified as one formative voice in this stretch. Latina/O Voices That we coexist and exist as relational beings is not lost when the topic relates to any consideration we might have on this topic. Th e agents of these processes, the means by which we are able to performatively perform our life, are sometimes the other persons in our lives who are able to inculcate such processes. Again, this is not to nullify the role of discursive processes, but rather to offer a more nuanced characterizati on of how discursive processes become vehicles of identity formation. In other words, our families, our culture (the family of the family) also act as strong agents of sedimentation when we can hardly see over the rim of that proverbial glass by which we are contained. Judith Butler has written extensively on the s ubject of discourse and the body. While not a Latina voice, she certainly articulates the question of sedimentation that speaks so intimately to
19 how ethnicity is born, at least in this Latina. As Butler begins to discuss in her latest book, Undoing Gender We come into the world unknowing and dependent and to a certain degree, we remain that way.(2004, 23) She reiterates th e point a bit later, the fact remains that infancy constitutes a necessary dependency, one th at we never fully leave behind. (2004, 24) The introduction of the overt role of the human in the constitution of the Self is a very poignant one in that it depart s slightly from the larger pr eoccupation with processes and discourse as these rather monolithic and dry forces that have this generative power. It foregrounds the role of relations hips to people as well as to things: the animate over the inanimate. However, before I launch into a discussion that may deviate slightly from the topic of discursive processes and their role in the cons titution of the body and identity, let us witness an apt crystallization of Butlers own interpretation of this constant thorny theoretical thicket: Every time I write about the body, the writing ends up being about language. This is not because I think that the body is reducible to language; it is not. Language emerges from the body, constituting an emission of sorts. The body is that upon which language falters, and the body carries its own si gns, its own signifiers, in ways that remain largely unconscious. (2004, 198) I can appreciate the way in which Butlers ow n views have developed, not changed or been incredibly altered, as much as have grown. Comp are the former statement to Butlers depiction of the relationship of discourse to the I or self, as it were: Where there is an I who utters or speaks a nd thereby produces an effect in discourse, there is first a discourse wh ich precedes and enables that IThus there is no I who stands behind discourse and executes its volition or will through discourse. On the contrary, the I only comes into being thr ough being called, named, interpellated, to use the Althusserian term, and this discursive c onstitution takes place pr ior to the I (1993, 225) It is useful, then, to observe the manner in wh ich she takes (as others have done) the expression of the I and allows for it to stand concurre ntly with body. She allows herself to be contradictory; she allows for the both to exist at the same time. She has made room for the
20 messiness that is the question of what constitutes iden tity, the self, and th e body. It is difficult not to admire how this messiness is reflected, pe rhaps, in the uncleanliness and impurity of the lack of surety of ones position. This is a very Latina position to take; it represents a certain mestizaje and mixture of positions that noted Lati na Lesbian theorist, Gloria Anzaldua, reflects a familiarity with in her seminal work, Borderland s. In it she elucidates the presence of the mythological figure of the Coalticue (a goddess figur e considered to be the Aztec precursor to the more tame and Christian La Virgen de Guad alupe) as one who, depic ts the contradictory (47). She can also embody, duality in life, a synthesis of duality, and a third perspective something more than mere duality or a synthesis of duality. (?) Hence, thematically, Coatlicue and Butlers fluid theoretical stance (precisely about fluidity) bring out the larger theme of this project which includes my performa nce and this paper as a theore tically elucidating companion. The theme of duality, the co-existence of two seem ingly divergent strands of identity, co-existing in one bodymineis the earnest ambition of this project. Fou cault demonstrates how identity gets born in and creates the indivi dual. It is time to discover th e way in which Latinidad is bred in this milieu. When I think of my own Latinidad and what that continues to mean as I grow older, I am faced with this relational understa nding of the world in which I live. I recognize quite easily just in my day-to-day life the Latina cushion on one side of me and the larger American culture around me. While this varies context-to-context when I have lived in a predominantly angloamerican environment, I have felt the relationa lity of my Latina constitution as something emanating from my interior much in the way Foucault would refer to the power-knowledge dyad as it creates certain bodies, the subject who knows, the objects to be known, and the
21 modalities of knowledge must be regarded as so many effects of these fundamental implications of power-knowledge and their histor ical transformations.(1984, 175) This theme is taken up in my performance when I am introducing my name (Deborah Alvarez Caron) to the audience. I narrate how my appearance belonged to another geographical landscape that my Americanized nickname (my name sans the Cuban middle name) hid. That it, along with my untainted or unaccented Engl ish, did so effectively enough to garner compliments from peers throughout my childhoodt hat is all of my American peers. Then with the exposition of my Fatherone Puerto Rican, whom I had never met yet whose DNA I carry and another American, whom I consider Daddyas two ephemeral figures who acted each in formative ways. One father I never knew but somehow was always with me; and the other father I felt inextricably linked to but now only occurred in my memory. It was my American father, as evidenced by my subsequent portrayal of a white American male figure who could easily have been the stand-in for th e Daddy I had just described, who I felt more attachment to (to his americanness, even), but yet who was held in a certain tension with my Cubanness in ways I chose to explore on the stage. In sum, I had the peer group of my youth complimenting how well I hid my otherness, my other ethnicity (or really my total ethnicity ) through the purity of my accent. Meanwhile, what festered was a resentment toward them for perceived lack of acceptance and myself for how well I gained acceptance at their price. Th is in conjunction with my resentment toward a family who engrained an othering of the Ameri cans; they were my friends and my father, but they were not Cuban and that was not good enough. It is simply a matter of carrying a certain hist ory (both personal and collective/ cultural and familial) that created the Latina that resides w ithin and is revealed when I speak my native
22 Spanish. Paradoxically, as English has now become my stronger language, when I find myself in a predominantly Latin or Hispanic context, I f eel my estranjera-ness as unavoidable. Negron-Muntaner in her multi-faceted work, Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans an the Latinization of American Culture speaks of how shame then produces certain behaviors or practices that become signifier s of identity. She states: Puerto Ricanness here does not only (or always) imply an identity or a sign, but technology to see for the eccentric self in others a nd find not necessarily what one is looking for but something that could simultaneously be mo re thrilling, reassuri ng, or terrifying: a piece of yourself everywhere (32). Her characterization of a self leav es us with both the contrast of a fluidity and expansiveness of a self that cannot possibly be cont ained and yet the persis tence of an identity or its pieces found everywhere such that it cannot be ignored. It is a certitude that to address the brownness of ones skin becomes a slippery slope. Can we make such assumptions, draw such conclusions about what literally constitutes ones purported inside by what is happening on her outside? Foucaults contention is that what we are or become is a pr ocess that begins on the outside and then infects our inside. To return to an earlier discussion revolvi ng around the inescapabl e intangibility of processes and discourse, we are left only with the ability to cite examples of their existence. Consider when Negron-Muntaner elaborates on th is point in a discussi on of Jennifer Lopezs butt: ... Puerto-Rican big butt also suggests that bodies are made of something else besides language even when we can only speak about them discursively, and the gap between the materiality of speech and flesh can never be totally bridged. (237) At the risk of sounding like an echo, the gap be tween the materiality of speech and flesh can never be totally bridged is a bold assertion th at appears to render any further discussion on how bodies constitutions might be informed discursive ly as useless or lacking value. However,
23 Butler in Bodies That Matter responds to this possibly fa cile disavowal by stating: To claim that discourse is formative is not a claim that is originates, causes, or exhaustively composes that which it conced es; rather, it is to claim that there is no reference to a pure body which is not at the same time a further formation of that body. (10) This effectively simplifies the issue by allowing discourse to remain a prominent figure in the conversation but it also acknowledges a tension that exists. The phenomenon of the hyphen or the border one of the interstices that becomes our livesand how we are able to manage the twoness that dominates ones landscape is a reality that comprises many Latinas selves. Mestizaje ha s been the most apt term to fully encapsulate or capture this actuality. As Stavans makes mention of in his illuminating yet sometimes problematic work, The Hispanic Condition: Hispanics in the United States have d ecided to consciously embrace an ambiguous, labyrinthine identity as a cultural signature, a nd what is ironic is that, in the need to reinvent our self-image, we seem to be thor oughly enjoying our cultural transactions with the Anglo environment, ethnically heterogeneous as they are.(9) How aptly a labyrinthine captures this e xperiencethat is a place, a locationa nonlocationa place we never reacha home we never r eally own or know. This is the border; this is the hyphen the never-never place where we seek to residebut where residence feels impermeable. Having to make solid what is flee ting; having to make a home where there exists perpetual homelessness, this is the theme ta ken up by Stavans second chapter Blood and Exile in which he states, To be sure, the crossroads where blood and exile meet are not the exclusive property of the Carribean. Ours is a wounded con tinent(39). But is it not those wounds that shape us precisely? Is it not wh ere our hearts are marked with pa in that a person is created? Inevitably, this leads us into the world of Negron-Muntaner wh ereby shame creates a certain subjectivity that could onl y be known as, minority status or latinization. It is a clear subjectivisation in the manner of Foucault. Ne gron-Mutaner explores the many ways in which
24 shame as a constituting force has shaped latina/o identity specifically Puerto Rican identity. She mentions, regarding specific narratives (of the resi stance sort) that, a story that is able to represent the liminal moment when nation and foreigner confront each other and where the invader is repelled, thus foundi ng a heroic national subjectivit y(36) are reconciling in a performative manner such that seemingly di sparate parts of ones identity become less so. Offering an interesting counterpo int, she posits that, In claimi ng a traumatized identity, these sectors have also cultivated the feeling that they have been set apart and made special.(35) This echoes Foucaults assertion in how seem ingly oppressive processes and forces act as generative ones. To clarify, the process and/or discourse that would oppr ess the subject serves also to create it. One is led to ask then, What if that which fo rms us conforms not to a formbut is itself a liminal or in-between space? Is a perpetual state of liminality such a deplorable state? What if one finds that it is just where one should like to stay? Identity is not a stopping point. That is, identity is not a concre te structure. Identity is not even a structure that moves, changes, and grows from one phase to the next having several or a plural number of stopping points. Identity is rather the process itse lf. It is not an arrival point, but the constant pursuit of arrival. Identity is a process-whether it is shame, discourse, or other subjectivising forces-informed by various discourses; it is simply an ongoing evoluti on or unfolding process. While Butler and Foucault make a case for this sedimentation and generative process, Rodriguez, Stavans, Negron-Mutaner, and Anzaldua suggest that it is far messier than a theoretical explanation might illustrate. While each author brings their own nuanced understanding and portrayal of how this looks, at the risk of some reduc tiveness let us probe further. They suggest
25 entirely new hybrid identities that would be fa shioned as a result. The hyphen and the border serve to mix up the paletteas does la raza csm ica which Anzaldua explains as the ideological creation of Jos Vasocelos, a Mexican philos pher, who, called it a cosmic race, la raza csmica, a fifth race embracing the four major race s of the world.(78) His vision was meant to be one of inclusivity.(78) Though it is possible to understand thes e constructs to be just that new constructs. More intriguing, perhaps, is the denotation of the proc esses involved: that there is no stopping point or fixity. In Richard Rodriguezs latest work, Brown: The Last Discovery of America, he prefers to speak with the exquisiteness of a metaphorician within the confines of the essaya creative man, indeed. He speaks to the sensibility of a persons slow but eventual discovery that identity never had the lines we so willingly (or desparately) need to erect to feel the inevitability of identity. Divulging his own identity and motivation for the writing of his book, he says: The most important theme of my writing now is impurity. My Mestizo boast: As a queer Catholic Indian Spaniard at home in a temper ate Chinese city in a fading blond state in a post-Protestant nation, I live up to my sixteenth-century birth. The future is brown, is my thesis; is as brown as the tarnished past. (35) Rodriguez refers here to himsel f as a gay Mexican man living in San Francisco, California, USA. A man who received an advanced degree in English Renaissance lite rature and points out that his first name as a namesake of England all act to de fine him in traditionall y inconsistent ways. Alas, there is the beauty of it. He represents the brownness that is us al l. There also exists the way in which Anzaldua re fers to this mixture: la mestiza is a product of the cultural and sp iritual values of one group to another. Being tricultural, monolingual, bilingual, or mu ltilingual, speaking in patois, and in a state of perpetual transition, the mestiza faces the dilemma of the mixed breed: which collectivity does the dau ghter of a darkskinned mother listen to? (78)
26 The resounding answer to her question appears to be all of them or none of them. The mestiza answers to a new arbiter of what is and is not that states the ambiguity itself is where identity can be found. Anzaldua strengthens th e mestiza thesis by addressing th is ambiguity as a juggl(ing) [of] cultures which is what we do to cope but also foster a new something that can effectively be a new identity with no borders, no walls(78) How, then, might Foucault address the transito ry quality of identity? Foucault speaks more directly to issues surrounding the body specifically. While the terms body and identity are used interchangeably throughout, iden tity acts as a series of discursive moments that intersect and become confus ed with the body. Foucault elabor ates his take on this elusive but ever-present entanglement: the body is also directly involved in a politic al field; power relati ons have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it, mark it, train it, tort ure it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs. (1984, 173) What of these signs emit ambiguity or impurity (as Rodriguez would be fond of suggesting)? What can we glean from discursive confusion such as can be found with identities that are slippery? They slip through the cracks of be drock that we have come to hold up with such adulation. We thrive on the certainty of certain constructs that we call categories of identity. The power relations coul d conceivably be identifying stru ctures that create, form or generate a subject. Or they could also forecl ose an identity or leave a subject out in the proverbial cold. Anzaldua tells us: As a mestiza, I have no country, my homela nd cast me out; yet all countries are mine because I am every womans sister or potentia l lover. I am cultureless because, as a feminist, I challenge the colle ctive cultural/ religi ous beliefs Indo-Hispanics and Anglos; Yet I am cultural because I am participating in the creation of yet Another culture. (80) Clearly a reconciliation of a generally perceived split, Anzaldua exalts the role of mestiza as belonging to all.
27 To reconcile a historically complicated sense of homelessness by wedging a proper Home in the world that feels right and makes room for all of the complexities births something new. Something that feels intuitively authentic comes to fruition. One might be left wondering, How then might such a reconciliation be made possible? We will now turn to a figure by the name of Victor Turner whose work in the field of Ritual and Performance Studies offers an amelioration to the border or those who might inhabit two disparate worlds or identities. He both embodies the theory he espouses as well as offers a possible resting place within th e journey of border-c rossing that has been explicated here.
28 CHAPTER 3 RITUAL Ritual Studies and Performance Studies have de veloped into bedfellows in the past two to three decades of scholarship. While the two stra nds continue to interweave very much with one another, we have witnessed that they also have become their own disciplines with entire journals devoted to each course of study (TDR: The Dr ama Review, Journal of Ritual Studies). Victor Turner is a figure that moved from one end of this spectrum, firmly entrenched in the Ritual Studies field to boldly claiming equal, if not complete, footing in the Performance Studies area. While his official title is that of anthropologist he found himself wandering into various areas throughout his career. His early wo rk focused on the particular rituals of the Ndembu tribe in northwestern Zambia which in cluded performances that typified their worldview. Then he moved deeply into the stud y of ritual and how it in tersects, informs, and bleeds into performance. It is because of this shif t (and then focus) that he made in his work that I choose to focus on him as well as invoke him as a figure that embodies one of the phenomena that he developed. Turner is noted for developing the construct of the liminal, liminality, and the liminoid. These all are permutations of a common theme bu t are, nonetheless, attributed with their own nuanced understanding. I want to suggest in this paper that Turners liminality, which in his explication and development of the term is a phase through which one passes to reach the other side of an initiation or transformation process, ca n also be fruitful as a stopping point by itself. Ironically, I want to invoke th e stopping point as being located in an ever-shifting sea of movement and in-between-ness. I see a mark ed connection between th e betwixt-and-between of identity as suggested in my performance ar t piece and how Victor Turner performs as a scholar of ritual studies. What follows, then, is a historiography of the figure and the liminality
29 of Victor Turner as his conception of the liminal developed. First, though I will turn to how he characterizes liminality and the liminal. Beginnings Turner recites: Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, conve ntion, and ceremonial. As such, their ambiguous and indeterminate attr ibutes are expressed by a rich variety of symbols in the many societies that ritualize social and cultural transitions.(1969, 95) Through his fieldwork, Turner ha d discovered the curious appear ance of the liminal among his subjects. He theorized that liminality and the liminal entity was very much a necessary part of the productiveness of a culture. He had located the liminal with in the context of something known as, communitas which is an inextricable part of the fruitfulness of a culture. It provides a counterpoint to the structure of everyday life. As understood by Turner, this communitas which uses liminality as an irrevocable part of its make-up actually allows for the structure that creates a society. Communitas also allows subject s to pass through the various phases of a life in that culture through initiatory rites which are se t apart from everyday life precisely to ensure their effectiveness as a rite. This anti-structure (used inte rchangeably with communitas) gives members of its society a se nse of movement and station as a result of having been stripped of any earlier station or identity before they we nt through the process. The society, in Turners estimation, is somehow made solid by the seemi ng inversion of the nor mal structure of the everyday that is fortified by the balance provided by the anti-structure. It is as though the tension of these two opposing spheres creates the balance. Acting as a part of the communitas process, Tu rner sought to illustrate the way in which in every culture he studied possesse s the need for communitas to ensure its survival. Turners
30 words explain succinctly from his book, The Ritual Process how we can understand what, exactly, communitas is: It is as though there are here two major models for human interrelatedness, juxtaposed and alternating. The first is of society as a structured, differentiated, and often hierarchical system of politico-legal-economic positions wi th many types of evaluation, separating men in terms of more or less. The second, which emerges recognizably in the liminal period, is of society as an unstructured or rudimentarily structured and relatively undifferentiated comitatus community, or even communi on of equal individuals who submit together to the general aut hority of the ritual elders.(96) It is useful to mention that not only was The Ritual Process published in 1969 at which point it was still common to see gender-specific langua ge but also Turner used communitas, comitatus, and community/ communion, quite in terchangeably. Return ing to the discussion, the culture requires these two interrelated sphe res to coexist complimentarily, Liminality implies that the high could not be high unless th e low existed, and he who is high could not be high unless the low existed and he who is high must experience what it is lik e to be low.(97) However, Turner further develops, The passa ge from lower to higher status is through a limbo of statuslessness.(97) Turner determined that much of what enabled an initiate or a subject to achieve further and further levels of statuses was contingent upon th e above-mentioned phases and practices. It was in this earlier part of his exploration that he saw liminality as a very specific theoretical construct that served a larger purpose of greater import than it s existence by itself. Though this shifts (which will be more clearly outlined as th is paper progresses), it is significant to draw attention to this fact. These are the ideas that sp ecifically fall into and in habit the realm of what we would call Ritual Studies unde rstood as the study of ritual pr ocesses as they are located within their specific contexts (cultural or otherwise). The view that the antithesis, or anti-structure as he often referred to it, of a cultures existing structure litera lly finds itself enabling the prolonga tion of its success was key to
31 Turners larger point and discovery He elaborates his thesis as pertains to passages of status when he states: To put it briefly, at certain life crises, such as adolescence, the attainment of elderhood, and death, varying in significance from culture to culture, the passage from one structural status to another maybe accompanied by a strong sentiment of humankindness, a sense of the generic social bond between all members of societyeven in some cases transcending tribal or national boundaries regardless if their subgroup affiliation or incumbency of structural positions. (1969, 116) Liminality becomes the almost imperative sticki ng glue that allows for the continuation and subsistence of the society. Its vi gorous survival stands in place due to the temperance of these two energies (structure/ anti-stru cture) keeping a tenuous balance. Further, it becomes more than just the vigor that is assured but an actual cohesive quality is a ttained through their co-existence. As these two spheres emerge, so is the balance r eached. Let us probe liminality even further. Turner thinks of those who would inhabit th e realm of the liminal as, persons or principles that (1) fall in the in terstices of social structure, (2 ) are on its margins, or (3) occupy its lowest rungs.(1969, 125)These are the person s who would be thought of as inhabiting the fringe or the outside. As mentioned with reference to ritual or rites of passage, liminality stands for a finite time and space that is located with in a ritual. However, in Turners earlier book Ritual Process, we see him invoking the limin al figure as one who may possess a bit more permanence in their role in society. One can easily pass through one of these roles and still manage to remain there through th eir life. Turner makes menti on of his desire to see that communitas not be limited to a specific territorial locus so that we can accurately view the way in which one seeks a space where the structure ceases to be. He, further, develops the nuances of what communitas is by stating that it specifically can be found w here social structure is not (127).
32 Liminality, as does communitas: Breaks in through the interstices of structureat the edges of structure, in marginality; and from beneath structure, in inferi ority. It is almost everywhere held to be sacred or holy, possibly because it transgresses or dissolv es the norms that govern structured and institutionalized re lationships. (1969, 128) It is precisely these interstices that Victor Turner s ought to inhabit and make use of with his way of being. He wraps the entirety of his project in the value that thes e constructs bring to a society. He goes so far as to state that, Maximi zation of communitas provokes maximization of structure, which in its turn produces revolutionary strivi ngs for renewed communitas.(1969, 129) It is this tension that allows for such a hearty product to emerge. I am reminded of the opening of my show here where I describe myself as, a person of mixed culture and mixed proclivities I proceed by describing this impurity and ambiguity as being precisely where I reside. I inhabit this liminality as a position of strength and fortitude. Turner in this earlier phase of his work described liminality in terms of its temporariness as a finite period in which one coul d pass through to get to the other side. I make a strong claim in this performance piece that I am in no way misled into thinking that I am passing through this phase but rath er am steadfastly remaining in this space. Interestingly, Turner refers to this sort of permanent lim inality when referring to persons who choose professions in an established religion: Transition has here become a permanent condition. Nowhere has this institutionalization of liminality been more clearly marked and defined than in the monastic and mendicant states in the great wo rld religions.(1969, 107) He, additionally, demonstrates that one is to find that same hyper-liminality or seeming permanence in the contemporary phenomenon. Wh ile not considered a national rite of passage per se, at the time Ritual Process was published, one could fi nd hippies inhabiting this interstitial role in the culture at large. He theorizes this materialization by st ating, In practice,
33 of course, the impetus soon becomes exhaus ted, and the movement becomes itself an institution among other institutions(1969, 112) Though he continues to view liminaility as something firmly located as part or a stage of a multi-step process, he begins to see a noteworthy transpiration of liminality by itself. It comes forth as something that can stand on its own for further curious examination. Journeying In the article, Passages, Margins, and P overty: Religious Symbols of Communitas which appears in Turner conti nues his journey of teasing out a nd developing what this state of the liminal is. For example, in addition to re ferring to persons who i nhabit this betwixt-andbetween realm as a part of a r ite of passage, he exposes a diffe rent category of person that would be called the, marginal. As he sees it, marginals are: simultaneously members (by ascription, optati on, self-defintion, or achievement) of two or more groups whose social definitions and cultural norms are distinct from, and often even opposed to, one another. These w ould include migrant foreigners, secondgenerations Americans, persons of mixed ethnic origin(1974, 233) They stand as close to an example of an embodied or permanent liminal as they come. In this later work, he continues to subscribe to the perception that the liminal phase is exactly that: a phase. However, in beginning to describe protot ypes that resemble a figure that embodies the essence of what this phase characterizes he is pe eking into the later stages of his work. These include an overt focus on the liminal as a figure that might stand on its own. Yet returning to the process that led Victor to hi s final stages of thought, cons ider when he describes: Marginals like liminars are also betwixt and be tween, but unlike ritual liminars they have no cultural assurance of a final stable resolu tion of their ambiguity. Ritual liminars are often moving symbolically to a higherstatus, an d their being stripped of status temporarily is a ritual, an as-if, or make-believe stripping dictated by cultural requ irements.(233) This establishes the plausibility of enteri ng into the discussion of contemplating the performance that such a liminar might be subjected to.
34 As Turner continues to work out his con ceptual framework revealing the differences between liminals, marginals, and communitas he in turn is able to more productively fortify his original construct of the liminal. As Turner states: liminality represents the midpoint of tran sition in a status-sequence between time, outsiderhood refers to actions and relationships which do not fl ow from a recognized social status but originate outside it, while lowermost status refers to the lowest rung in a system of social stratification. (237) This explanation of liminality now appears within the context of a socially stratified culture as opposed to a standard of ritual th at all persons pass through. It is not only a part of a three-tiered progression that marks ones role in this rite as s/ he moves to another phase of existence, but it is also now a phase that can stand on its own and be observed in relation to other occurrences of this nature. In an interesting turn toward the suggestion of performance in ritual, he elaborates upon the individual by stating she or he is segmentalized into roles which he plays. Here the unit is what Radcliffe-Brown has called the persona the role-mask, not the unique individual. There arises th e framework of beginning to think about the ways in which a performance of the subject is the ritual that is transporting a subject from one location in the structure to the next. In additi on to what this movement may invoke in the initiands experience, Turner also exposes the issue of temporality and the role it might be found to play within ritual. Specifically, he expresses with regard to co mmunitas, or the anti-structure, that it: is almost always thought of or portrayed by actors as a timeless condition, an eternal now, as a moment in and out of time, or as a state to which the structural view of time is not applicable.(238). As this sense of no-time is paradoxically a hallmark of all ritual (a paradox because ritual marks time while also embodying a moment that presumeably stands above time so that the ritual can do its work), it also serves the purposes of the anti-s tructure and liminal quite well.
35 Just as liminality and communitas stand outside of the structure, i.e. the normative or a cultures reality, so too does it st and outside of time. Liminality as a betwixt-and-between phenomenon begins to get pulled and stretched into other realms of understanding. In fact, its pers istent ephemerality seems to facilitate its usefulness as a tool to understand other phenom ena. Consider when Turner states while discussing social structure: Major liminal situations are occasions on which a society ta kes cognizance of itself, or rather where, in an interval between their incumbency of fixed positions, members of that society many obtain an approximation, however limited, to a global view of mans place in the cosmos and his relations with other classe s of visible and invisi ble entities (239-240) I would like to posit here that this macro-understanding of lim inality is not only a prudent example of its multiplicitous nature but also can se rve as a reminder of the jewel of wisdom that the liminoid or liminal figure possesses. Hearkeni ng back to the previous chapter, the mestiza, the border crosser, and, inevitably, the border resident typify this gift of seeing the outside and the inside simultaneouslyboth within and outside of it. Turner asserts, Life as a series and structure of status in incumbencies inhibits the full utilization of human capacities (241-242). If a person is al ways called upon to do what is obligatory or required of them, as experienced in the normativity of ones roles, a subject cannot allow the full range of possibilities available to them. In fact, it is precisely where we can pinpoint or locate communitas that expansiveness and the domain of the possibility can be found. This is true even though one might be tempted to fall into the dualistic trap of identifying the anti-structure as opposing the structure. Victor states his intentions clearly: My focus here is rather on culturaland hence institutionalizedexpressions of communitas as seen from the perspective of st ructure, or as incorporated into it as a potentially dangerous but nevertheless v italizing moment, domain, or enclave. (243)
36 Among the many and varied examples that Turner chooses to expose in hi s discourse regarding institutionalized communita s, one discovers that most of them are religious examples. That is various sects of larger organized religions make an appearance as his examples. Some are the Franciscans, the Virasaiv a saints of medieval South India, and the Tukuka cult from the Ndembu tribe. These are religious groups emerging from a larger normative group that can be considered the communitas element woven into its larger fabr ic. In thinking about ways that these liminal groups prophets might have come upon these s pontaneous communitas by way of an action or deed, Turner indicates how the action or historical deeds get c odified only to become part of a sacred history. This, inevitab ly, lends itself to becoming simply a part of the structure even though it might have a risen as an ti-structure. (248-249) It is in the following assessment, however, that Turner establishes his discovery or idea: Religion and ritual, it is well known, often sustain the legitim acy of social and political systems or provide the symbols on which that legitimacy is mo st vitally expressed, so that when the legitimacy of cardinal social relations is impugned, the ritual symbolic system to which has come to reinforce such relations ceas es to convince. It is in this limbo of structure that religious movements, led by ch arismatic prophets, powerfully reassert the values of commnitas, often in extr eme and antinominian forms. (248) This lengthy statement is a powerful example of how the realm of the liminal in ritual intersects with (and can be indis tinguishable from) the liminal in religion. Particularly striking should be the element of charisma as it plays a significant role in the composition of liminality in the religious context. In other words, the materialization of liminality [the ephemeral, betwixt-and-between, not founded w ithin the structure] is lo cated in the performance of charisma by a prophet or religious leader. This leader goes against the grain of the authorities who maintain and define the structure by expressing sentiments that run count er to the grain. Turner then describes how this former deviation becomes the structure. Hearkening back to the larger point of this exposition (that of observi ng how the phenomenon of the liminal once seen as
37 only a temporal phase inevitably becomes useful as a structure or s topping point), Turner observes that often spontaneous forms of co mmunitas are converted into institutionalized structure(248) In essence, while the need for these categories (str ucture/ anti-structure) remains legitimate, Turner allows himself and the reader to journey with him into a liminal place where the categories, or rather th e variables located within said categories, shift and change into their opposite. He fully encapsulates his point when he states: In this no-place and no-time that resists classification, the major classifications and categories of the culture emerge within the integuments of myth, symbol, and ritual. Play, Drama, Symbol In the essay, Liminal to Liminoid, in Play, Flow and Ritual: An Essay in Comparative Symbology from From Ritual to Theatre, Victor Turner is making an overt move into the realm of performance, theater, and play. It is in hi s stepping back and observi ng a series of signifiers as comprising a larger panorama with players, movements, and scenes that witnesses him expanding himself over and into the Performance Theo ry realm. While Turner remains vested in his role as a Ritual Studies anthropologist who preoccupies himself with the nuances and meanings to be found with rites of passage his language suggests a closer look and preoccupation with the action of the performance/ ritual itself. For example, he writes: The passage from one social status to anothe r is often accompanied by a parallel passage in space, a geographical movement from one place to another. This may take the form of a mere opening of doors or the literal crossing of a threshold which separates two distinct areas, one associated with the subjects pre-ritual or preliminal status, and the other with his post-ritual or post liminal status. (1982, 25) He continues by offering other possibilities in whic h this action can take place, but what is now taking center-stage is the action. How is the ph enomena formerly described in a more abstract or theoretical manner coming to fruition? In what manner is the geographical movement being
38 executed in such a way for the passage to occur? Turner has shifted his tone and focus to the realm of the spatial such that he can be gin to resemble a theater director. Turner introduces the notion of play as a fo rce that opposes work in this exposition of liminality. As he discusses (or re-explains) how liminality makes itself apparent in initiatory rituals, he states: Liminality may involve a complex sequence of episodes in sacred space-time, and may also include subversive and ludi c (or playful) eventsin limina lity people play with the elements of the familiar and defamiliarize them. Novelty emerges from unprecedented combinations of familiar elements. (27) There is a marked departure from a more binary way of seeing structur e/ anti-structure and liminalitys role in destabilizing (and reaffirming) that relationship. To his credit, he points out that play, leisure is sharply demarcated from wo rk,(29) in the more i ndustrialized nations after the Industrial Revolution. It is to his credit because he is a su bject, or speaker, very clearly placed within this context. He explains: Liminality, the seclusion period, is a phase pecu liarly conducive to suchludic invention. Perhaps it would be better to regard the dis tinction between work and play, or better between work and leisure as itself an artifact of the Industrial Revolution. (31-32) This distinction as he illustrates is juxtaposed by the lack of this bifurcated understanding of work by traditional societies (non-industiralized). Whatever business or activity that takes place in the tribe exists as part of the larger whole. That is, wh at might look like play or ritual play stands as a mere part of that larger whole. The distinction is located, rather, in its sacrality or profanity. As Turners thinking progresses and develops, he begins to st ep into the realm of seeing how his thinking has a distinctly larger capacity or scope in its application. While on the one hand moving definitively into a preoccupation with the specifics of action and performance, he also begets an overt resemblance to certain pe rmutations of literary theory, Binariness and
39 arbitrariness tend to go together and both are in the atemporal worl d of signifiers(23). With his focus turning to the nuances of the symbolic a nd how his work fits into it, he locates himself in a liminal position between semiotics and symbolic anthr opology by unearthing comparative symbology. He declares: comparative symbologyproposes to take into account not only ethnographic materials, but also the symbolic genres of the so-called advanced civilizations, the complex, large-scale industrial societies. Turner continues to extend his range easily identifying the interconnections and widereaching capabilities as they pertain to (or speak to) seemingly disparate sides of a spectrum. This approach is readily formed in the performa nce studies genre of scho larship. Victor Turner proposes the following: The term limen itself, the Latin for threshold selected by Van Gennep to apply to transition between, appears to be negative in the connotation, since it is no longer the positive past condition nor yet the positiv e articulated future condition. (41) However, he follows this seeming duality with the corrective that, indeed, liminality does not have only a negative connot ation but possesses both negati ve and positive aspects that interface. For example, Turner goes further in his explanation by suggesting that, Meaning in culture tends to be generate d at the interfaces between estab lished cultural subsystems(41) One could then undoubtedly surmise that it is th is confluence or blend of the positive and negative that allows liminality to be a meaning-creator. These are the sorts of conclusions that Turner began to uncover as he continued his inquiry of the larger theoretical implications of lim inality. There is an emphasis on abstract symbolization which paradoxically leads into clos er examination of the actualization of these abstractions via physical action a physical manifestation of wh at is. And it is this very paradox that performance and specifically how the liminal acts performatively in which Turner concentrated his later scholarship. He offici ally shifted into a more liminal space whereby
40 Anthropology, Performance, and Ritual sort of bleed into each other a nd yet are not anyone of those particular constructs. Drama/ Performance/ Ritual Turners essay, Dramatic Ritual/ Ritual Drama: Performative and Reflexive Anthropology from The Anthropology of Perf ormance launches into a specific discussion explaining what performance is. He explains th at performance can be understood in terms of, the processual sense of bringi ng to completion or accomplishi ng. (91) He goes further to say that, To performis to bring the data home to us in their fullness, in the plentitude of their action-meaning.(91) The embodiedness that coul d formerly be attributed to ritual and specifically rites of passage is now transferred into the category of performance. Turner finds himself grappling with the streng th and significance of thematical ly what occurs in the same event that could have been cal led ritual. Performance as an identifier/ signifier foregrounds the drama of the situation. The action, emotiona l tone, and dramatic power of what takes place in a ritual happening all create th e text of a performance such that a ritual can be viewed easily and richly through a Performance Studies lens. Th is was a discovery within which Victor Turner inevitably gained a foothold. As Turner focused his attention more overtly on the study of perfor mance it logically led into an engrossment with the world of theater and acting. Made apparent by the article, Acting in Everyday Life and Everyday Life in Acting, Turner viewed himself as very much a part of the Theatre and Performance Studies canon. To encapsulate how he perceives an easy intersection between the world of the theatrical a nd the (purported) real, he states: Acting is therefore both work and play, sole mn and ludic, pretence or earnest, our mundane trafficking and commerce and what we do or behold in ritual or theatre.(1986, 102)
41 The notion of the action expand into a larger vista as Turner successfully demonstrates that the action of the ritual and of the theatrical perfor mance inhabit a larger meta-genre. This other genre creates something potential ly new. Turner explains: Performance, then, is always doubledit canno t escape reflection and reflexivity. This proximity of theatre to life, while remaining at a mirror distance from it, makes of it, the form best fitted to comment or meta-comment on conflict, for life is conflict, of which contest is only a species.(24) This statement makes for an interesting intersection or possible reading of liminality whereby the notion of mirroring and reflectin g can easily translate into wh at happens in performance and ritual. A sense of twoness and meaning-creation arises where be fore there was none. Turner reiterates this relationship in a synthesizi ng manner by asserting, Man grows through antistructure, and conserves through structure.( 114) The liminal, again, is a place held-inbetween where the seemingly opposing spheres co ming to create something entirely different. Victor Turners final work, The Anthropology of Performance, expos es a very different thinker than the one a curious mind might encount er in a work published over two decades prior where Turner preoccupied himself more overtly with ritual as it ha d been configured by anthropologists before him. Rather than turning away entirely from his field (as made apparent by the title of the aforementioned book), he stayed in it and comp licated its structure and ground. In fact, in his essay, Images and Reflections: Ri tual, Drama, Carnival, Film, and Spectacle in Cultural Performance, he provides a delineation and yet a synthesis of the many phenomena that he chooses to spend a significant portion of his writing to. He states: Rituals separated specified members of a group from everyday life plac ed them in a limbo that was not any place they were in before a nd not yet any place they would be in, then returned them, changed in some way,to yet a ny place they would be in, then returned them, changed in some way, to mundane life. The second phase, marginality or liminality, is what interests us here, though, in a very cogent sense, the whole ritual process constitutes a threshold between secular and sacred living. The dominant genres of performance in societies at all levels of scale and comp lexity end to be liminal phenomena.(25)
42 Turner manages to amalgamate liminality, performa nce, and ritual in a coherent whole without sanitizing its complications. He succeeds in de monstrating how each strand commingles with and interpenetrates the other without sacrificing the indi vidual nuances of each one. Turner admits to his own ill-definedness and ambiguity elaborating, there is detectible an extensive breakdown of boundaries between vari ous conventionally defined sciences and arts, and between these and modes of soci al reality.(79) Consistent with this blurring that Turner observes in the constructs of the humanities, or perhaps more accurately in the very bodies of knowledge, he looks further and toward the e ssentialized possibilitie s and the philosophical potential uncovered in the concept of performance. He explains: man is a self-making animala sym bol-using animal,a performing animal. Homo performans his performances are, in a way, reflexive in performing he reveals himself to himself. This can be in two ways: the act or maay come to know himself better through acting or enactment;or one set of human beings may come to know themselves better through observing and/or participating in perf ormances generated and presented by another set of human beings. (81) The performance of life, then, whether embodied in a group or by one person alone contains the seeds of self-reflexivity (in the macroor microsense) according to Turner. He has moved the emphasis of his work from a specific ritual studies canon right into a performance studies framework. Liminality, or more accurately, the state of the liminal, is a good place to be. It is a sound place in which a scholar, an initiand, or a pers on passing through life can take some solace. What Turner ultimately discovered was that R itual, Performance, and Liminality were betwixtand-between states that befell us all. To understand liminality as capturing the fundamental verity that life and the human experience is wr ought with ambiguity is to have reached some profound lucidity about existence. That Victor Turner (with the help of wife Edie Turner who was indispensable as a researcher and scholar herself) navigated th rough fieldwork as an
43 anthropologist, theatrical performa nces as a ritual theorist, and then the performance of everyday life as an interdisciplinary scholar (special em phasis on the prefix inter- which denotes goes between the disciplines not just multidisciplinary as one who covers many) could very well stand as the gift that he represents as a thoroughly liminal figure. It is this perpetual liminality that carries the potential to liberate. I chose to represent Victor Turners inte llectual process as one that skates through liminality. My hope is that in the frames of the performance of Just Alvarez that follow one can observe how I, too, as a border-crosser and bo rder resident both personify the very process I choose to illustrate. In other words, the performan ce itself is one that is located in the liminal and explains the liminal. Victor Turner was intellectually a liminal fi gure never quite arriving to a set place while also making his lifes work the exposition of the li minal. It is again, an almost concretization of the elusive, a solidification of the ephemeral. My hope and achievement is to stand firmly on what might seem like a passage or transitional state.
44 CHAPTER 4 PERFORMANCE After watching this video of my performance, what should be apparent is the element of surprise, the unexplainable, and the ephemeral that is present in performan ce or ritual. I choose to connect the reconciliation of tw o disparate ethnic identities with the loss that I experienced at the hands of various father figures: my biologi cal father, my present-then-gone father, and my deceased step-grandfather. One was a ghost, one was deeply significant, and another was abhorrently oppressive. My s ubjectivising process combines the pain of loss and ensuing suffering of those I loved and the loss of a c oherent ethnic identity which was bound up in their roles in my life. I hope you e xperience the power of reconciliati on that can follow the tragedy of separateness. Object 4-1. Just Alvare z. (.wmv file 89 MB)
45 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION When I developed this performance, it was m eant to once-and-for-all disclose the tension, confusion, general malaise that a person of mi xed culture generally experiences traveling through a world that may not recognize such a uni que position. While I set out to express this truth, what appeared to unfold were the deep in juries I experienced both in the form of persons who personified my each distinct ethnicity and th e pain incurred from walking through outside world with both identities. It is Foucaults notion of the subject being generated or created by these injuries that allowed me to not only seek to stage a public and theatrical reconciliation but also that led me to display proudly the forces that created the person, the Body, Deborah Alvarez Caron. This stemmed largely from a desire to demonstrate valiantly the stre ngth of many who have suffered trauma, felt confused by their mixture, and generally navigated the world without much recognition of the courage required to do both. Ma rgaret Lock says it best in her article, Cultivating the Body: Anthropology and Episte mologies of Bodily Practice and Knowledge, when she summarizes Taussig by stating: He deplores previous analyses of healing rituals that ha ve focused exclusively on the restoration of order, and ta lks instead of the mingling of chaos, humor, and dangera disorder that can also be liberating and healing. (144) The sexual misuse of children is still a terribly uncomfortable topic for most adults in the United States, especially when truthfully asserted as an experience by an adult standing before them. However, by expressing the profundity of the wound on an adult survivors life (both how it impacted her personally and et hnically) and incl uding the audience in a ritu al for the healing of that wound, what might have been achieved wa s both the messiness of their discomfort in
46 hearing about it and the heali ng of the person coming out of the shadows by expressing it publicly. Lock further expresses, the body cease to ex ist as a stable analytic category over time and in space (144). It was pr ecisely this liminal space this I chose to paradoxically solidify: While I will always reside in the space of being Cuban and Puerto Rican in an anglicized America, it will remain messy. While I will alwa ys carry the wounds of my past, having been sexually abused by my step-grandfather and aban doned by my biological father and the man I call, Daddy, the healing of those wounds coexis t with the wounds themselves. I will remain, in this lifetime, messy. Academically a nd personally, I would have it no other way.
47 LIST OF REFERENCES Anzaldua, Gloria 1987 Butler, Judith 1993 2004 Foucault, Michel 1972 1977 1984 Lock, Margaret 1993 Negron-Mutaner, Frances 2004 Rodriguez, Richard 2002 Stavans, Ilan 2001 Turner, Victor 1969 1974 1982 1986 Borderlands: The New Mestiza= La Frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York: Routledge. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge. The Archeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon Books. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage Books. The Foucault Reader. New York: Pantheon Books. Cultivating the Body: Anthropol ogy and Epistemologies of Bodily Practice and Knowledge. Annual Review of Anthropology 22: 133-155. Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture. New York: New York University Press. Brown: The Last Discovery of America New York: Vintage. The Hispanic Condition: The Power of a People. New York: Rayo. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. From Ritual To Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications. The Anthropology of Performance New York: PAJ Publications.
48 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH D. Alvarez Caron was born in Santurce, San Ju an, Puerto Rico in 1973. When she was one year old, she and her mother relocated to Miam i, Florida where she then spent her formative years. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degr ee in Religious Studies at the University of Florida in 2000. Upon finishi ng her Master of Arts course work in 2003, Alvarez pursued a career as a professional educator. She now zealou sly researches and incorporates culturally responsive teaching and anti-racist curriculum as a Middle School teacher in Gainesville, Florida.