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Gender inversion in Croatian carnival and wedding customs


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Škrbić Alempijević, Nevena. (2006). Gender inversion in Croatian carnival and wedding customs. Narodna umjetnost: hrvatski časopis za etnologiju i folkloristiku, 43(2). pp. 41-65. ISSN 0547-2504

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The theme of the paper is cross-dressing as the "gender Other" by which a playfully inventive breakthrough is achieved within Croatian Carnival and wedding customs. This is a means of representation entrenched in the theatrical forms of folklore, which include costume transformation, a change in voice, mimicry, gesticulation, mode of walking and the imitation of physical attributes and behaviour patterns that the community conceives as being gender characteristics. The author contrasts this phenomenon with everyday transvestitism, as well as with sporadic adoption of opposite gender attributes in other customs, among which Carnival and wedding disguises stand apart due to their comical nature. She shows the variants and techniques of masking development and tries to establish the junctures within the Carnival and wedding context at which they are regularly present. The author poses the question on the relation between parodied gender inversion and partial attempts to look as much as possible like the personage being portrayed. She considers the relation between male and female gender inversion, at the same time analysing in which situations and in which localities women also practise gender inversion, how they behave in so doing and if one may speak of whether "the woman is treated primarily as an object, and not as a subject of symbolisation". Customary ritual gender inversion is discussed as a permissible and even desirable periodical offence. She does not incline to the theory of the mythic androgyne, in the light of which the phenomenon is interpreted as a fusion of the characteristics of both genders. In her opinion, the fictitious identity of the gender cross-dressed personage is not ambivalent, but rather underscores those gender differences that the community regards as the most obvious, thus confirming this social dichotomy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: gender inversion; Carnival customs; wedding customs
Subjects: Ethnology and cultural anthropology
Departments: Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2016 10:36
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 10:36

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