Contemporary Studies in Social Sciences

Volume 1 - Issue 1 (3) | PP: 39 - 47 Language : English

Marginal Identities and Bodies in North African Trance Dance: A Celebration of Madness

Abdellaoui Said
Received Date Revised Date Accepted Date Publication Date
9/12/2022 19/1/2023 12/2/2023 15/4/2023
The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between marginal identities, bodies, and the performance of madness in the North African trance dance. It casts light on festive rituals where the illnesses of the soul are manifested through corporeal expressions that variably combine the religious, the spiritual, the socio-cultural, and the psychological aspects. Rather than being stigmatized or pathologized, madness is celebrated to grant a legitimate space and voice to the disadvantaged and marginalized individuals. It is hence posited to produce a counter-discourse that symbolically speaks out against the dictates of formal discourses that control the lives of men and women and shape their identities. By applying a qualitative research method, this study involves observing subjects' corporeal performances in trance from a practice-based perspective. The descriptive analysis of the night of trance (the Lila) takes insights from social semiotics and the concept of the 'meta-sign' to account for the minimal details of madness and the corporeal signs into play. There are stages to follow and intricate bodily moments that would drive the observer of madness to where the order of society comes to a standstill. However, the focus of interest is to assess the readiness of women and men to play other than their normative sociocultural roles in society. The varying dramatic scenes with musical melodies, colors, spirits, litanies, and personifications are overwhelmingly loaded with the passion to celebrate and the desire to transcend time and space. The participants are voluntarily involved in trance as an outlet for their collective endeavor to exteriorize their own mental anxieties and whims. Their sole intention is to defy the prevailing ideologies and the pressures their bodies suffer from. Dancing for them embodies the psychiatric that helps the patients to be dispossessed and hopefully be cured. These observed rites of trance are found to be intentionally performed to relieve individuals from different types of alienation suffered in a 21st century modern world that marginalizes, downgrades, and chains them to the rigidity of disciplinary powers.

How To Cite This Article
Said , A. (2023). Marginal Identities and Bodies in North African Trance Dance: A Celebration of Madness. Contemporary Studies in Social Sciences, 1 (1), 39-47, 10.31559/CSSS2023.1.1.3

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