Description - Mardi Gras Indians by Michael P. Smith
One of the most dazzling elements of the MardiGras celebrations, the Mardi Gras Indians receive the attention and respect ofcarnival-goers for their elaborately beaded costumes and entertaining dances.But what few realize about the groups is that the parading is more than justfor show. Costuming, dancing, and all of the rituals of these groups are actsof cultural preservation that date back more than a century. In his new book, Michael P. Smith addresses the sociological issues surrounding the mislabeledand rarely understood Maroon groups now known as "Mardi GrasIndians." His textual analysis of the culture examines its African originsand how the participants help to develop the African-American culturalidentity. He looks at how some African-Americans resisted efforts to suppresstraditions that are re-emerging in modern society.Researched and documented by generations of oral and written history, thiswork clearly outlines the mistaken identification of the Mardi Gras Indians asjust an entertainment element of the carnival season. It also shows the vitalrole this traditional culture plays in the community, much as the blackSpiritual Churches do, in preserving an authentic base for the unique culturalheritage of blacks in New Orleans. This work illustrates how the Mardi GrasIndians are a part of the New Orleans second-line tradition.A dynamic element of this book is the collection of more than one hundredcolor photos. These prints capture the striking beauty of spectacles with apurpose far greater than entertaining. Combined with authoritative text bySmith, the visual images round out this examination of the roots of the MardiGras Indians and current practices of the whole range of African-Americancultural societies and parading groups in the Crescent City.Michael P. Smith is a native of New Orleans and an award-winningprofessional free-lance photographer. His special respect for the musical andcultural history of New Orleans has earned him the general trust of variousethnic groups he has documented and written about. Smith's work has beenpresented in the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution inWashington, D.C., and numerous other museums in America and Europe. He hasreceived two Photographer's Fellowships from the National Endowment for theArts, and his prints have toured worldwide under the auspices of the UnitedStates Information Service. He is also the author of New Orleans JazzFest: A Pictorial History and Spirit World: Pattern in theExpressive Folk Culture of African-American New Orleans .
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(311mm x 235mm x 23mm)
Pelican Publishing Co
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Co
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Book Reviews - Mardi Gras Indians by Michael P. Smith