5249 - Folklorama: The Unproblematic Spectacle of Otherness

Over the last years, the analysis of urban festivals increasingly caught the attention of—almost without parallels in other subject matter—ethnographers, geographers, historians, anthropologists, city planners, economists, sociologists, developers, and a diverse set of social scientists around the globe. The importance of festivals revamped a new sense of community into what Gordon Waitt has described “as a contemporary urban regeneration tool of neoliberal governance through the conjunction of business, play and fantasy.” Waitt argues that in times of de-industrialization festivals often re-positioned depressed cities, towns, or places on the world map as the “hub,” the “gateway,” the “centre,” or the “capital” of something. This description, certainly, easily defines Winnipeg’s Folklorama. In this case, however, the festival is more than a joyful neoliberal event. During the two-week celebration, Folklorama neatly connects the very idea of entertainment and business with the subtle necessities of the Canadian state’s “multicultural” project. In this form, different approaches can be disclosed in the fabrication of the discourse of diversity framed in the commodification of “otherness”. Folklorama, in this case, acts as an excuse of that discussion by staging the problem and setting the rules of that partial visibility of otherness, not as a difficult matter of negotiation but as an assimilated, uncomplicated form.

Keywords: multiculturalism, ethnicity, diversity, globalization, global city, immigration

Author: Velasco, Gustavo (London School of Economics, Canada / Kanada)


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