Bath Unconvention Symposium 2011 - Lynn Lunde

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'Illegal Acts in Disguise: Mumming as a component of collective social action in 19th century'


Mumming in Newfoundland is and was a tradition characterized by anonymity and unconventional behaviour. As mumming activities occurred both in public out-of-doors spaces and inside people's homes, 19th century mummers had the opportunity to communicate with most, if not all, members of a community through face-to-face interaction or through word-of-mouth. The event was entertainment but it could also be understood and experienced as a form of intimidation, as a venue for exercising personal rancour and community social control. Using the form of house-to-house visitation, mummers were able to communicate specific pieces of information to targeted households and individuals. Use of the disguise element of the tradition allowed persons access to the license accorded mummers by traditional practice and to render social justice according to the understanding of the community. The structure of the tradition also allowed the use of various of its elements within collective social action to influence political, economic, and social activity in early 19th century Newfoundland. [Full PDF - 179kB]

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