These questions sit at the centre of Max Harris’s ‘New Zealand project’. This book represents, from the perspective of a brilliant young New Zealander, a vision for confronting the challenges ahead. Unashamedly idealistic, The New Zealand Project arrives at a time of global upheaval that demands new conversations about our shared future.
In this book, Max Harris explores and develops principles for understanding the folk theology underlying patronal saints' day festivals, feasts of Corpus Christi, and Carnivals through a series of vivid, first-hand accounts of these festivities throughout Spain and in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, Trinidad, Bolivia, and Belgium. Paying close attention to the signs encoded in folk performances, he finds in these festivals a folk theology of social justice that—however obscured by official rhetoric, by distracting theories of archaic origin, or by the performers' own need to mask their resistance to authority—is often in articulate and complex dialogue with the power structures that surround it. This discovery sheds important new light on the meanings of religious festivals celebrated from Belgium to Peru and on the sophisticated theatrical performances they embody.
In this insightful book, Max Harris seeks to understand Mexicans' "puzzling and enduring passion" for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances' roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been a part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then using James Scott's distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts," he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, they remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.