Reimagining, Reclaiming and Continuity: Traditional Masquerade in Trinidadian Society
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- Institutt for musikk 
Carnival in Trinidad is one of the most studied by anthropologists, researchers and scholars of dance, theatre and drama. Not only is it an “exotic” phenomena, which is full of great festivities, but it is layered in complexities of conflicting parallels; of the social and political, the rural and urban, the past and future, sacred ritual and the secular, the community and the industry. Having engaged in a two months fieldwork process with Jouvay Ayiti, a new age masquerade group, I realized that not much continuity plan or structures are in place that support the carnival practices, that has the people as the foundation. Having the people ‘practitioners’ as the foundation is a ‘bottom up model’ which as Richard Schechner suggests, will ensure a sustainable safeguarding structure for the longevity to the practice, and will make for a better global product. This dissertation gives a process to procession documentation and analysis of the work of Jouvay Ayiti. Such documentation and analysis uses concepts from anthropologists Victor Turner, on symbolism and Richard Schechner as a narrative voice throughout the text, on Carnival in Trinidad. Turner’s concept of symbolism along with dance scholars Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Kariamu Welsh-Asante and Yvonne Daniel, on African/diaspora moving bodies is used to analyse the masks and its embodiment, as performed by Jouvay Ayiti during procession on Emancipation Day. The documentation, is of the continuity model ‘sustainability/ safeguarding’ that is practiced by the group with efforts to give full respect to the bearers of the tradition. The overall dissertation in a synthesis of my ethnographic accounts in a poetic recollection and an analytical report.