The Twenty-First-Century Reinvention of Carnival Rituals in Paris and Cherbourg

Extending the Boundaries of Belonging via Politicized Ritual


  • Monika Salzbrunn University of Lausanne



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.

Author Biography

Monika Salzbrunn, University of Lausanne

Monika Salzbrunn is professor of religions, migration, and diasporas at the University of Lausanne and principal investigator of ARTIVISM (“Art and Activism: Creativity and Performance as Subversive Forms of Political Expression in Super-Diverse Cities”), a research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC). She has published numerous books and articles in English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Japanese on political and religious performances as well as on carnivals and carnivalesque events in Cologne, Paris, Cherbourg, New York, Lausanne, and Payerne. She currently focuses on the French and Italian Mediterranean cities of Genoa, Viareggio, Nice, and Marseille.




How to Cite

Salzbrunn, Monika. 2020. “The Twenty-First-Century Reinvention of Carnival Rituals in Paris and Cherbourg: Extending the Boundaries of Belonging via Politicized Ritual”. Journal of Festive Studies 2 (1):105-27.