La comparsa y el concurso: Andalusian carnival on-stage

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Wandering groups of costumed minstrels who sing bawdy and biting songs about local events have long been the centerpiece of carnival in Andalucía. These groups are called murgas. In this article I offer an ethnographic description of the murgas of Carnival 1993 in El Puerto de Santa María (Andalucía) and argue that the contemporary murga, and hence contemporary carnival itself, has been the result of the intense convergence of festival energies on the indoor contests held in nearby Cádiz during the general prohibition of the festival by Franco. Contemporary carnival exhibits a rich continuum of murga formats, some finding a home in the theater, some in the streets. Nevertheless, the function of the murga remains the enactment of social and political commentary by the lower socioeconomic classes of society. However, the nature of that commentary is affected by the institution of contests in El Puerto and throughout the region. This "regionalization" of carnival may both reflect and contribute to political consciousness of Andalusian identity. [Andalucía, Spain, carnival, ritual, politics].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-88
Number of pages15
JournalAnthropological Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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