HIV/AIDS, power and influence in Malawi : the Nyau masquerade
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This study concludes that the unique performative culture of Malawi, embodied in the Nyau masquerade, is a vital means of communication concerning HIV/AIDS. This form of communication must be understood and utilised more extensively to bring about real changes in the perceptions and behaviour concerning the spread of the disease in Malawi. The Nyau masquerade is a unique ritual that combines political communication, performance, education and entertainment into a ritual that is deeply rooted in the traditional culture of Malawi. As a unique phenomenon that has received little scholarly attention, this ritual requires a combination of different theories in order to approach and understand the dynamics of the phenomenon from a political perspective and to recognise the interrelationships between other strategies to bring about behavioural change. The theoretical framework consists of several theories that address different components of this multifaceted phenomenon. Richard Bauman’s performance theory is used to approach the Nyau masquerade to decipher meaning using performative analysis. Mikhail Bakhtin’s analysis of carnivalesque is utilised to situate the ritual masquerade within the wider discourse of tradition and authority. Finally, Foucault’s exploration of sexuality and power-knowledge form the basis for the analysis of power relations within the different forms of communication and messages being conveyed concerning HIV/AIDS. The empirical material consists of an ethnographic manuscript documenting the performance and meaning of 4 Nyau characters; 7 key informant interviews; and, 100 survey questionnaires documenting local attitudes and responses to HIV/AIDS. The primary methodology used within this study is discourse analysis, employing a broad definition of discourse to approach messages communicated through the language of performance. This study explores the paradoxes between traditional communication and ritual practice as culture and tradition respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis. These paradoxes are also manifested in tensions between traditional power and the influences of modernity. ...
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