M. C. Riggio et al, "Festive Devils of the Americas" (Seagull Books, 2015)


The devil is a defiant, nefarious figure, the emblem of evil, and harbinger of the damned. However, the festive devil—the devil that dances—turns the most hideous acts into playful transgressions. Edited by Milla Cozart Riggio, Angela Marino, and Paolo Vignolo, Festive Devils of the Americas (Seagull Books, 2015) presents a transnational and performance-centered approach to this fascinating, feared, and revered character of fiestas, street festivals, and carnivals in North, Central, and South America. As produced and performed in both rural and urban communities and among neighborhood groups and councils, festive devils challenge the principles of colonialism and nation-states reliant on the straight and narrow opposition between good and evil, black and white, and us and them.

Learn more about festive devils here, and in the work of Rose Cano, who is currently studying how Peruvian devils manifest in Seattle, Washington. Of notable influence on this text is Leda Martins’ concept of spiral time, which you can learn more about in Martins’ chapter, “Performances of Spiral Time,” in Performing Religion in the Americas: Media, Politics, and Devotional Practices of the Twenty-First Century (Seagull Books, 2007).

Milla Cozart Riggio is James J. Goodwin Professor of English Emerita at Trinity College. Angela Marino is Associate Professor in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of California Berkeley. Paolo Vignolo is Associate Professor of History at the National University of Colombia, Bogota.

Other contributors to the book Festive Devils of the Americas include Miguel Rubio Zapata and Amiel Cayo, members of El Groupo Cultural Yuyachkani; the late Thomas Abercrombie; Miguel Gandert; Monica Rojas-Stewart; Max Harris; Zeca Ligiéro; Lowell Fiet; Rawle Gibbons; Raviji (Ravindranath Maharaj); David M. Guss; Rafael Salvatore; Benito Irady; Anita Gonzalez; Enrique R. Lamadrid; and Rachel Bowditch.

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics provided continual support (financial, intellectual, and personal), especially Diana Taylor, Director, and Marcial Godoy-Anativa. Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui also advised the general Festive Devils project.

Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) is a PhD candidate in Musicology at Florida State University. She is currently working on a dissertation about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival celebrations.

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Emily Ruth Allen

Emily Ruth Allen (@emmyru91) holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Florida State University. Her current research is about parade musics in Mobile, Alabama’s Carnival.

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