The Transformation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Dance through State Education and Politics in the Ritual of a Rural Greek Community

Giorgos K. Fountzoulas, Maria I. Koutsouba, Anastasios Hapsoulas, Vasilios Lantzos


In many cases, dance, as an embodied practice reflects habits, views, relations and juxtaposition and thus constitutes a “vessel” of meanings, is used by the ruling class as a means of enforcement or manipulation, whereas by the people, as a means to resist or express opposition to the policies of the respective ruling class. In such cases, dance stands as a symbol that carries values and meanings, embodies cultural classifications, reflects social relations and diversifications, and defines integration and exclusion. Dance, as “an inalienable structural component” of the “Gaitanaki” ritual in a community of Central Greece, i.e. Skala in the Nafpaktia province, is one of such cases. Thus, the aim of this paper is to study the transformation of dance during the “Gaitanaki” ritual as a result of the manipulation by the ruling class through the Greek formal education in the 20th century. More specifically, the paper investigates the way in which the respective ruling class influenced, manipulated and guided the dance during the ritual and how this contributed to the transformation of its dancing form from the middle of the 20th century until now. For this purpose, ethnographic research was carried out as it applies to the dance research. Data analysis was based on “thick description”, whereas its interpretation on Wright’s (2004) notion of political and politicised culture as this derives from Bourdieu’s (1990) “habitus”. It is proved that national cultural policy promoted through formal education transformed aspects of dance during the ritual as well as its symbolism.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2017.v8n1p243

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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