Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

On Dancing and Fishing: Joy and the Celebration of Fertility Among the Punu of Congo-Brazzaville

  • Carine Plancke

Abstract

Among the Punu of Congo-Brazzaville ikoku dancing is perceived through the concept of joy. In line with the privileging of the emotional experience, this article intends to consider the dance as an emotive institution – that is, a socially organized activity that creates culturally meaningful forms of emotion within which an understanding of self, as well as social identities and relations, are shaped. In ikoku, a succession of dance sessions, embarked on with shame-banishing pride and performed individually or as a couple, awakens a shared joy. Through the dance patterns and idiom, this joyful dancing is connected to the fecundating sexual encounter and to the activity of fishing, linking the dance world to the life-bearing water spirit world. The joining of sexual differentiation and maternal containment that in this way is enacted and deeply experienced by the participants – if the event succeeds in awakening joy – supports basic structures of Punu rural society characterized by the tension between conjugal relations based on a patri-virilocal principle and matriclanic belonging. The emphasis that our analysis places on the dance form itself, and on the shared joy in dawning fertility it evokes, also proves to be fruitful in understanding how ikoku dancing persists in changing contexts – and even in urban ones.

Chez les Punu du Congo-Brazzaville, la dance ikoku est perçue à travers le concept de joie. Cadrant avec le privilège d'expérience émotionnelle qu'offre la danse, cet article entend considérer la danse comme une institution émotionnante, autrement dit une activité socialement organisée qui crée des formes d'émotions culturellement significatives dans lesquelles se modèlent une compréhension du soi, ainsi que des identités et des relations sociales. Dans l'ikoku, on s'adonne seul ou en couple, sans complexe, à des séances de danse successives qui éveillent une joie partagée. À travers les schémas et l'idiome de la danse, cette danse joyeuse est liée à la relation sexuelle fécondante et à l'activité de pêche, reliant le monde de la danse au monde des esprits de l'eau porteuse de vie. L'alliage de différenciation sexuelle et de confinement maternel que les participants interprètent et ressentent profondément ce faisant, à condition que l'événement parvienne à éveiller la joie, soutient les structures de base de la société rurale punu caractérisée par la tension entre relations conjugales basées sur un principe patrivirilocal et appartenance matriclanique. L'accent mis par l'analyse sur la forme de danse elle-même, et sur la joie partagée de la fertilité naissante qu'elle évoque, s'avère également utile pour comprendre la persistance de la danse ikoku dans des contextes changeants, même urbains.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Abu-Lughod, L. and Lutz, C. (1990) Language and the Politics of Emotion. Cambridge and Paris: Cambridge University Press and Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.
Bekaert, S. (2000) System and Repertoire in Sakata Medicine: Democratic Republic of Congo. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Uppsaliensis.
Bernault, F. (1996) Démocraties ambiguës en Afrique Centrale: Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, 1940–1965. Paris: Karthala.
Blacking, J. (1985) ‘ Movement, dance, music, and the Venda girls' initiation cycle’ in Spencer, P. (ed.), Society and the Dance: the social anthropology of process and performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Blakely, P. (1993) ‘Performing Dangerous Thoughts: women's song-dance performance events in a Hemba funeral ritual (Republic of Zaire)’. PhD thesis, Indiana University.
Blakely, S. (2006) Myth, Ritual and Metallurgy in Ancient Greece and Recent Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
De Boeck, F. (1991) ‘ On bushbucks without horns: male and female initiation among the Aluund of south-west Zaïre’, Journal des africanistes 61 (1): 3771.
De Boeck, F. (1994) ‘ “When hunger goes around the land”: hunger and food among the Aluund of Zaïre’, Man 29 (2): 257–82.
Devisch, R. (1990) ‘ The human body as a vehicle for emotions among the Yaka of Zaïre’ in M., Jackson and I., Karp (eds), Personhood and Agency: the experience of self and other in African cultures. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International.
Devisch, R. (1993) Weaving the Threads of Life: the khita gyn-eco-logical healing cult among the Yaka. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press.
Eaton, D. (2006) ‘ Diagnosing the crisis in the Republic of Congo’, Africa 76 (1): 4469.
Farnell, B. (1999) ‘ Moving bodies, acting selves’, Annual Review of Anthropology 28: 341–73.
Fu-Kiau, A. (1969) Le Mukongo et le monde qui l'entourait (N'kongo ye nza yakun'zungidila). Kinshasa: Office National de la Recherche et de Développement.
Gabail, L. (2010) ‘Comment dansent les institutions: classes d'âge et rapports de sexe chez les Bassari de Guinée’, Journal des Africanistes 80 (1), forthcoming.
Gilman, L. (2001) ‘Purchasing praise: women, dancing and patronage in Malawi party politics’, Africa Today 48: 4364.
Hagenbucher-Sacripanti, F. (1973) Les Fondements spirituels du pouvoir au royaume de Loango (République Populaire du Congo). Paris: Orstom.
Hagenbucher-Sacripanti, F. (1987) Santé et rédemption par les génies au Congo: la médecine traditionnelle selon le Mvulusi. Paris: Publisud.
Hanna, J. L. (1979) ‘Dance and social structure: the Ubakala of Nigeria’, Journal of Communications 29 (4): 184–91.
Harding, J. and Pribram, E. D. (2009) ‘Introduction: the case for a cultural emotion studies’ in Harding, J. and Pribram, E. D. (eds), Emotions: a cultural studies reader. London and New York NY: Routledge.
Herbert, E. W. (1993) Iron, Gender and Power: rituals of transformation in African societies. Bloomington and Indianapolis IN: Indiana University Press.
Hersak, D. (2001) ‘There are many Kongo worlds: particularities of magicoreligious beliefs among the Vili and the Yombe of Congo-Brazzaville’, Africa 71 (4): 614–40.
Ibamba, E. (1984) ‘Organisation sociale et conception du monde chez les Punu du Gabon: le village des morts “Ibungu”: étude sociologique et ethnologique, traditions et changements sociaux’. PhD thesis, Université Toulouse 2.
Jacobson-Widding, A. (1979) Red-White-Black as a Mode of Thought: a study of triadic classification by colours in the ritual symbolism and cognitive thought of the peoples of the Lower Congo. Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksell.
Jacobson-Widding, A. and Beek, W. van (1990) ‘Chaos, order and communion in African models of fertility: introduction’ in Jacobson-Widding, A. and Beek, W. van (eds), The Creative Communion: African folk models of fertility and the regeneration of life. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International.
James, W. (2000) ‘Reforming the circle: fragments of the social history of a vernacular African dance form’, Journal of African Cultural Studies 13 (1): 140–52.
Kaeppler, A. (1978) ‘Dance in anthropological perspective’, Annual Review of Anthropology 7: 3149.
Koumba-Manfoumbi, M. (1987) ‘Les Punu du Gabon des origines à 1899: essai d'étude historique’. PhD thesis, Université Paris I.
Kurath, G. (1960) ‘Panorama of dance ethnology’, Current Anthropology 1 (3): 233–54.
Leavitt, J. (1996) ‘Meaning and feeling in the anthropology of emotions’, American Ethnologist 23 (3): 514–39.
Leynaud, F. (1953) Aspects religieux de la danse dans les civilisations archaïques de l'Afrique du Sud-Est. Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie.
Lindholm, C. (2005) ‘An anthropology of emotion’ in Casey, C. and Edgerton, R. B. (eds), A Companion to Psychological Anthropology: modernity and psychocultural change. Malden: Blackwell.
Lumembu, A. K. (2004) ‘L'immigration africaine en ces temps de globalization’, Alternatives Sud 11: 8797.
Lutz, C. and White, G. M. (1986) ‘The anthropology of emotions’, Annual Review of Anthropology 15: 405–36.
Mabik-ma-Kombil, (2001) Parlons yipunu: langue et culture des Punu du Gabon-Congo. Paris: L'Harmattan.
Merlet, A. (1991) Autour du Loango (XIVe-XIXe siècle): histoire des peuples du sud-ouest du Gabon au temps du royaume de Loango et du ‘Congo français’. Libreville and Paris: Centre Culturel Français Saint-Exupéry and Sépia.
Middleton, J. (1985) ‘The dance among the Lugbara of Uganda’ in Spencer, P. (ed.), Society and the Dance: the social anthropology of process and performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Milton, K. (2005) ‘Meanings, feeling and human ecology’ in Milton, K. and Svasek, M. (eds), Mixed Emotions: anthropological studies of feeling. Oxford and New York NY: Berg.
Mitchell, J. (1956) The Kalela Dance: aspects of social relationships among urban Africans in Northern Rhodesia. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Moore, H. L. (1999) ‘Gender, symbolism and praxis: theoretical approaches’ in Moore, H. L., Sanders, T. and Kaare, B. (eds), Those Who Play with Fire: gender, fertility and transformation in East and Southern Africa. London: Athlone Press.
Moore, H. L., Sanders, T. and Kaare, B. (eds) (1999) Those Who Play with Fire: gender, fertility and transformation in East and Southern Africa. London: Athlone Press.
Nannyonga-Tamusuza, S. A. (2005) Baakisimba: gender in the music and dance of the Baganda people of Uganda. New York NY and London: Routledge.
Neveu-Kringelbach, H. (2007) ‘“Cool play”: emotionality in dance as a resource in Senegalese urban woman's associations’ in Wulff, H. (ed.), The Emotions: a cultural reader. Oxford and New York NY: Berg.
Perrois, L. and Grand-Dufay, C. (2008) Punu. Milan: Five Continents.
Plancke, C. (2009) ‘Rites, chants et danses de jumeaux chez les Punu du Congo-Brazzaville’, Journal des Africanistes 79 (1): 177208.
Pype, K. (2006) ‘Dancing for God or the Devil: Pentecostal discourse on popular dance in Kinshasa’, Journal of Religion in Africa 36 (3–4): 296318.
Ranger, T. O. (1975) Dance and Society in Eastern Africa 1890–1970: the Beni Ngoma. London, Nairobi and Lusaka: Heinemann.
Reed, D. B. (2001) ‘Old music and dance for new needs: local performative responses to new African realities’, Africa Today 48(4): 1.
Reed, S. (1998) ‘The politics and poetics of dance’, Annual Review of Anthropology 27: 503–32.
Rosaldo, M. Z. (1984) ‘Toward an anthropology of self and feeling’ in Schweder, R. A. and Levine, R. A. (eds), Culture Theory: essays on mind, self, and emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Soret, M. (1959) Les Kongo Nord-Occidentaux. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Spencer, P. (1985a) ‘Introduction: interpretations of the dance in anthropology’ in Spencer, P. (ed.), Society and the Dance: the social anthropology of process and performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Spencer, P. (1985b) ‘Dance as antithesis in the Samburu discourse’ in Spencer, P. (ed.), Society and the Dance: the social anthropology of process and performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Svasek, S. (2005) ‘Introduction: emotions in anthropology’ in Milton, K. and Svasek, M. (eds), Mixed Emotions: anthropological studies of feeling. Oxford and New York NY: Berg.
Vansina, J. (1990) Paths in the Rainforest: towards a history of political tradition in Equatorial Africa, London: James Currey.
White, B. W. (2008) Rumba Rules: the politics of dance music in Mobutu's Zaïre. Durham NC: Duke University Press.
White, G. M. (2005) ‘Emotive institutions’ in Casey, C. and Edgerton, R. B. (eds), A Companion to Psychological Anthropology: modernity and psychocultural change. Malden: Blackwell.
Williams, D. (2004) Anthropology and the Dance: ten lectures (second edition). Urbana and Chicago IL: University of Illinois Press.

On Dancing and Fishing: Joy and the Celebration of Fertility Among the Punu of Congo-Brazzaville

  • Carine Plancke

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed