The Twenty-First-Century Reinvention of Carnival Rituals in Paris and Cherbourg
Extending the Boundaries of Belonging via Politicized Ritual
Keywords:Carnival, Boeuf Gras, Paris, Cherbourg, political anthropology, folklore studies
Carnival as a research object has been studied from a multiplicity of perspectives: folklore studies, European ethnology, social and cultural anthropology, history, sociology, etc. Each of these disciplines has enriched the literature by focusing on different aspects of the event, such as its participatory nature, its transformative potential (at an individual or collective level), and its political dimension broadly conceived. The present article reviews this scholarship and uses it to analyze the contemporary Parisian Carnival, which has tried to revive the nineteenth-century Promenade du Boeuf Gras tradition on a local and translocal level through its creative collaboration with the carnival of Cherbourg, Normandy. I argue that, through satire and other politicized carnival rituals, the recent protagonists of Parisian Carnival (Les Fumantes de Pantruche) have reinvented the festivities and influenced Norman Carnival, thus extending the boundaries of belonging in both cities.