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Variations on Racinian Excuses
Author: Edward Forman
This comparative literary study re-evaluates the reciprocal relationship between tragic drama and current approaches to guilt and extenuation. Focussing on Racine but ranging widely, it sheds original light on tragic archetypes (Phaedra, Oedipus, Clytemnestra, Medea and others) through the lenses of performance theory and modern attitudes towards blame.
Tragic drama and legal systems both aim to evaluate the merits of excuses provided on behalf of perpetrators of catastrophic acts. Edward Forman wittily and provocatively explores modern judicial concepts – diminished responsibility, provocation, trauma, ignorance, scapegoating – through the responses of characters in tragedy. Attention is paid to the way in which classical plays (ancient Greek and seventeenth-century French) have been re-interpreted in performance in the light of modern perceptions of human responsibility and helplessness.
Festivity and Representation in the Early Eighteenth Century
The 1720 Imperial Circumcision Celebrations in Istanbul offers the first holistic examination of an Ottoman public festival through an in-depth inquiry into different components of the 1720 event. Through a critical and combined analysis of the hitherto unknown archival sources along with the textual and pictorial narratives on the topic, the book vividly illustrates the festival’s organizational details and preparations, its complex rites (related to consumption, exchange, competition), and its representation in court-commissioned illustrated festival books (sūrnāmes).
To analyze all these phases in a holistic manner, the book employs an interdisciplinary approach by using the methodological tools of history, art history, and performance studies and thus, provides a new methodological and conceptual framework for the study of Ottoman celebrations.
Author: Wim van Zanten
Music of the Baduy People of Western Java: Singing is a Medicine by Wim van Zanten is about music and dance of the indigenous group of the Baduy, consisting of about twelve-thousand people living in western Java. It covers music for rice rituals, for circumcisions and weddings, and music for entertainment. The book includes many photographs and several discussed audio-visual examples that can be found on

Baduy should live a simple, ascetic life. However, there is a shortage of agricultural land and there are many temptations from the changing world around them. Little has been published on Baduy music and dance. Wim van Zanten’s book seeks to fill this lacuna and is based on short periods of fieldwork from 1976 to 2016.
Volume Editor: Catherine F. Botha
In African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics, Catherine F. Botha brings together original research on the body in African cultures, specifically interrogating the possibilities of the contribution of a somaesthetic approach in the context of colonization, decolonization, and globalization in Africa.

The innovative contributions that consider the somaesthetic dimensions of experience in the context of Africa (centred broadly around the themes of politics, feminisms, and cultures) reflect a diversity of perspectives and positions. The book is a first of its kind in gathering together novel and focused analyses of the body as conceived of from an African perspective.


In this introductory chapter to the collection, Catherine Botha explores the major themes that are covered in the volume, and links them to the idea of an African somaesthetics as provocation. She explores how the work of one contemporary South African artist, Nandipha Mntambo, and specifically her Europa (2012) can be read as a somaesthetic commentary on the way in which bodies are subject to the male, white gaze in the context of the colonial past and present.

In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics
In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics


The purpose of this chapter is to study the film “Black Panther” as a contribution to the black aesthetic tradition and as a form of somaesthetic exploration. Our argument is that the film uses somatic aesthetics, and particularly somaesthetics, to provide a counter-hegemonic depiction of Black bodies and to explore the lived experiences of Black bodies in motion. We begin with three commitments that are central to the argument: that there is a Black aesthetic tradition, that somatic aesthetics is a coherent and internally complex field of inquiry within that tradition, and that the idea of Africa often gets mobilized as a resource for African American racial(izing) projects. From that theoretical basis, we provide our reading of the film’s experiential argument, beginning with the film’s counter-hegemonic representation of black beauty and movement, and then using Fred Moten’s description of intermodal transfer to present a racial-kinaesthetic reading of a pivotal set of scenes from the film. In particular, we emphasize the important role that the embodied kinaesthetic experiences of black women play in these scenes and throughout the film. We conclude that “Black Panther” presents an innovative, if imperfect, attempt to navigate the somatic aesthetic problem-space in the Black aesthetic tradition.

In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics
In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics
In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics


This chapter reflects on the persistent and blatant exclusions within the sphere of art and culture in South Africa by examining the recent cultural activism (2014) of the Tokolos Stencil Collective. It analyses the latter’s specific activist means such as the deployment of human excreta, obscene language and imagery, and a highly partisan posture. The latter are interpreted against the background of the struggles waged by South Africa’s black poor, as well as on-going, decolonial student protests. An unrelenting drive toward desublimation and anti-conformism is further identified as one of Tokolos’s key activist procedures and is contrasted to more playful and sophisticated, yet more harmless modes of cultural contestation in contemporary South Africa. The chapter argues, finally, that Tokolos’s activism can be productively conceived within Dave Beech’s and John Roberts’s theorisation of the philistine, albeit after discounting some of the latter’s contextual limitations and conceptual biases. Tokolos’s popular, philistine brand of cultural politics is found to be highly effective in calling out South Africa’s cultural and art institutions for their complicity in maintaining social, cultural and spatial divisions.

In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics