Guyana Folk Festival 2012: Symposium – Call for Participation


Guyana Cultural Association of New York, Inc.   &

 Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports

Guyana Folk Festival 2012:  Symposium

“Masquerade Lives.”

Georgetown, Guyana. South America

December 13, 14, 2012

Guyana Folk Festival Secretariat

1368 E. 89 Street, Suite # 2.  Brooklyn, New York, NY 11236.  U.S.A.
TEL: 718.209.5207. FAX: 718.209.6157 WEBSITE:

To organize an event that would contribute to public education and appreciation of the history and direction of masquerade in Guyana.   

In recent years masquerade has been in decline and for many; the few masquerade bands that take to the streets during the Christmas masquerade season are considered and treated as nuisances.  The mission of the 10th annual symposium is to collaborate with Guyana’s Ministry of Culture and other Guyanese institutions to create a space for public education, the examination of the deep heritage associated with Guyana’s masquerade traditions, especially its origins, history, international connections, and aesthetic dimensions–(costume, dance, music, craft, and performance).  The symposium also aspires to contribute to a strategy for the rehabilitation and promotion of the tradition.

Specifically, the symposium will:

  • Support the thrust of Guyana Folk Festival 2012—Masquerade Lives.
  • Contribute to the celebration and rehabilitation of the masquerade art form in Guyana
  • Identify, discuss and demonstrate the origins of the masquerade tradition in Guyana and its regional connections.
  • Explore the factors that contributed to the diffusion and decline of the heritage in Guyana.
  • Explore the contributions of various institutions and personalities to the promotion and celebration of masquerade in Guyana—including Frank Pilgrim, Lavinia Williams, Billy Pilgrim, Errol Ross Brewster, etc.).
  • Identify and pay homage to Guyana’s masquerade pioneers—including  Joe Flounce, Bandula, the Blacketts, Boysie Sage, Bundarie, Putagee, etc.)
  • Create a space to showcase current trends in Guyanese and Caribbean masquerade performance.
  • Provide an opportunity for knowledge transfer through short workshops in basic steps, music, chanting/toasting, etc.
  • Provide a space to premiere the creation of new choreographies, music, poetry, etc. that celebrate Guyana’s masquerade heritage and promote new aesthetic directions.
  • Facilitate the collecting of materials for dissemination in Guyana Folk magazine and the academic press; to support scholarly research, for depositing in the Caribbean Collection of the University of Guyana, and for immediate use in radio and television programming in Guyana and elsewhere.


  • Origins of the art form
  • Immigration, class, and transferal and transmission of masquerade
  • The poetics of the masquerade: literary expressions
  • Masquerade as graphic text (PAINTING)
  • Costuming: meaning and subtexts
  • The masquerade band and community pride
  • Masquerade as public spectacle
  • Masquerade and foreign policy
  • Masquerade and CARICOM festival arts
  • The Music(s) of Masquerade
  • Masquerade and the Bhoom
  • Masquerade and biography
  • Masquerade as a socio-historical unit in curricula in schools


Persons interested in participating in any of the forms of expression are invited to register by proposing a provisional topic by August 15, 2012.  Paper and other abstracts are due by September 30, 2012.  Abstracts should not exceed 300 words in length and should be sent in electronic form or hard copy to the Symposium Organizing Committee (Dr. Vibert Cambridge (Ohio University), Dr. Juliet Emanuel (The City University of New York), and Dr. Michael Scott (University of Guyana] c/o Dr. Vibert Cambridge (, Professor Emeritus, School of Media Arts and Studies, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701.

Georgetown, Guyana.   June 28, 2012

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