The Celebration of Local Identities through Carnival in Cologne and Paris
Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften Ruhr-University Bochum/EHESS Paris Bochum, Germany
In a context of moving European identities, a return to localized identification processes can be observed. Especially celebrative forms of being together can create a communitas or a we-group during a particular social situation. Both in Cologne and Paris carnival, this creation or reinforcement of territorialised belonging goes along with a reinvention of tradition with reference to historical sources. One political message amongst others coming up in recent street carnivals in Paris is a strong local identity to which people from various backgrounds, living in the same quarter, adhere. This demonstration of geographically defined identity can in some cases go along with a collective demonstration of a common standpoint on global political issues. However, the lack of a common musical heritage sets a limit to the expansion of reinvented festive events in Paris. In Cologne, the adhesion to the popular carnival event is constantly increasing. The combination of well-known historical origins, the constant reinvention and renewal of artistic forms of expression and a growing need for local references in a context of globalisation can explain the constant success and the diversification of Cologne carnival. Both cases illustrate the link between culture and power as well as the tension between subversion and submission. This paper will provide a detailed analysis of the conditions of positive celebrations and the role of technology, ideology, and everyday praxis in enhancing (in the case of Cologne) or inhibiting (in the case of Paris) positive celebration. Research is based on fieldwork in both cities during seven years (situational analysis, participatory observation, semi-guided interviews, informal conversations, analysis of archives etc.) and was funded by two research projects (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique and German Research Foundation).