Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 17–30 | Cite as

Amiri Baraka’s Theatre of Ritual: from Staging Rituals of Unfulfilment to Performing Rituals of Political Praxis

  • samy Azouz


The plays Dutchman and The Slave show the transition from rituals of the scapegoat, through rituals of the ascendance of the new king, to rituals of initiation. From the cult of erosion of the self to the rhetoric of self-affirmation, Slave Ship and The Motion of History highlight the progression to rituals of revolt and protest. This change of staging rituals of incompletion and loss to staging rituals of political protest indicates Baraka’s doubts about veiled bohemian values and indefinite avant-gardism. Residing a middle ground, Black Nationalism has first meant for the dramatist individualism then belonging and engagement in the black resistance for civil and civic freedoms and liberties. Whereas ritual in Dutchman and The Slave convey unfulfilment and ruin, the kinaesthetic activity in the later plays bring action and agitation to the centre stage. Plays such as Slave Ship and The Motion of History picture joint action and expose large-scale movement and mobilization. This shift from a stance of apathy and political blindness to sociopolitical militancy underscores Baraka’s progression from bohemian precepts through nationalist leanings to leftist politics.


Ritual Unfulfilment Revolt Agitation Politics Liberation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and HumanitiesKairouan UniversityKairouanTunisia
  2. 2.Unit of Scientific Research and DevelopmentUm Al-Qura UniversityMeccaSaudi Arabia

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