Dan Ge Performance

Masks and Music in Contemporary Côte d'Ivoire

By Daniel B. Reed
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Indiana University Press, 2003

ISBN 978-0-253-21612-0

240 Pages


Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology 2003

Ge, formerly translated as “mask” or “masquerade,” appears among the Dan people of Côte d’Ivoire as a dancing and musical embodiment of their social ideals and religious beliefs. In Dan Ge Performance, Daniel B. Reed sets out to discover what resides at the core of Ge. He finds that Ge is defined as part of a religious system, a form of entertainment, an industry, a political tool, an instrument of justice, and a form of resistance—and it can take on multiple roles simultaneously. He sees genu (pl.) dancing the latest dance steps, co-opting popular music, and acting in concert with Ivorian authorities to combat sorcery. Not only are the bounds of traditional performance stretched, but Ge performance becomes a strategy for helping the Dan to establish individual and community identity in a world that is becoming more religiously and ethnically diverse. Readers interested in all aspects of expressive culture in West Africa will find fascinating material in this rich and penetrating book.


Notes on Language
Cast of Characters
Introduction: Talking about Ge
1. On the Road to Man
2. Coexistence, Cooperation, and Conflict in the City of 18 Mountains
3. "When a rooster goes for a walk, he does not forget his house": "The Tradition" and Identity in a Diversifying Context
4. What is Ge?
5. Manifesting Ge in Song
6. Drums as Instruments of Social and Religious Action
7. Gedro at Guehave
8. Gegbade at Yokoboue
9. Pathways of Communication and Transformation


Daniel B. Reed is Director of the Archives of Traditional Music and Assistant Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is co-author (with Gloria Gibson) of the CD-ROM Music and Culture in West Africa: The Straus Expedition (Indiana University Press).

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