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Amanda M. Maples gives paper at the 2018 African Studies Association Annual Meeting

Masquerade performance, Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo by Amanda M. Maples.
July 2, 2018

Amanda M. Maples will give a paper on urban masquerading in Freetown at the upcoming African Studies Association meetings in Atlanta, GA, November 2018. Part of the panel Masquerade Arts: New Perspectives and Recent Fieldwork, her paper is entitled “Beyond Borders: Performing Freetown Masquerades in the Diaspora.” Based off of her recent fieldwork in Sierra Leone and Maryland, the paper will examine the links between Freetown-based artists and masquerade societies and their diasporic permutations in the DC-Maryland area. The research traces several youth masquerades, known as Ordehlay, from their creation in Freetown to new performative arenas off the continent. However, these connections of exchange are not unilateral, and masquerade components are conversely being sent from the United States to Freetown for re-use, establishing a cross-circular network of exchange that is largely perpetuated and structured through social media applications such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The presentation queries: how are these links formed? How and why do masks travel beyond boundaries to be performed again? And how are they altered or reimagined to fit within their new performative landscapes?

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