In Mocambo, cultural practices and performances are being reconfigured and retained in new forms and surrounded by new discourses, revealing modes of local self-fashioning and political action. However, our inquiry should not end there. Thomas Abercrombie (1991:99) argues that whatever meanings might adhere to a certain "traditional" cultural form "are today produced and interpreted, within the (semi-open) semiotic systems produced at locally or situationally specific intercultural loci..., which intersect with national and international systems as significantly as with neighboring town groups." In this essay, I suggest that the demands, interests, and desires of the larger society, as manifested in laws, discourses of lawmakers, academics, and the media, are integral to an understanding of processes of law-making and the resignification of cultural performances that are entwined with legal meanings. Thus, the reconfiguration of cultural practices in a distant, forgotten, desert-like region can lead us to inquire about, and even begin to understand, the larger societies, national and international, that find those cultural practices significant enough to report on the front page.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2002, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR).