Classifying heritage by (re)classifying identities:!
The inclusion of Kola San Jon in the portuguese list
of intagible heritage
Ana Flávia Miguel,
Susana Sardo
Department of Communication and Art, INET-MD, University of Aveiro
Abstract !
The Atlantic journey of Kola San Jon
The apparent dissent (transporting the place of origin to the host territory) is
In October 2013, the
Kola San Jon (KSJ) is a polysemic performance practice which take place
overcome by reversing the liminal condition that usually comprises the
performance practice of Kola
in Cape Verde. This practice, originated from the religious devotion to St.
experience of the inhabitants of a neighbourhood whose history has
San Jon (KSJ) – of Cape Verdian
John the Baptist, which is ritualised in time and space and is materialised
successively been defined as clandestine and illegal. The KSJ celebrations
origin – was included in the
through the performance associated with music (such as the beating of the
allows the neighbourhood to be transformed into a desirable and legitimate
Portuguese National Inventory
drums, the use of whistles and the sung word), with dance, and the use of
space, not only for its inhabitants but also for those who “live” beyond its
of Immaterial Cultural. The
artefacts of a religious and ritualistic nature.
borders. For all involved, the KSJ celebrations constitutes, as well as in
initiative to legally protect KSJ
The relationship between Cape Verde and Portugal underwent a situation of
Cape Verde, a kind of tacit knowledge which apart from signifying different
belongs to the Associação
colonial dependence, which was politically abolished on July 5th, 1975, the
things for different people, allows everyone to experience this co-existence
Cultural Moinho da Juventude
country’s Independence Day. The city of Lisbon and especially the Cova da
(Arendt 2007).
(ACMJ) in partnership with two
Moura neighbourhood, came to constitute a privileged place in which the
The KSJ can leave the neighbourhood when the group is invited to perform
research centres, INET-MD/UA
Cape Verdian immigrants settled. It was in this context that KSJ emerged in
beyond its geographical borders. In this case music and dance are
1991, as an annual feast of the neighbourhood, supported by the
dissociated from the celebration becoming autonomous. In this case, its
important to understand in
Associação Cultural Moinho da Juventude.
performative profile is more similar to that represented in Cape Verde,
which sense the classification of
In the Cova da Moura, the central element of the event is a procession
becoming more distant from the neighbourhood in which the music and
KSJ as Portuguese Intangible
along the streets, accompanied by music (drums, whistles, the sung word),
dance are incorporated in the celebration from which are inextricably
Heritage, can be an action of
dance (which includes the belly touch) and artefacts (boats, rosaries,
linked. This promotes what Rancière call the political experience of dissent
reclassification of the identities
images of the ‘June’ saints, flags, swords, costumes, amongst others).
which is a “partition of a sensible world”, opposed to another “partition of a
involved, that legitimate the co-
sensible world” (Rancière 2006). For the public who host the performance,
existence and the construction
this experience results in a kind of estrangement, which is surprising,
of a common world between
alienating and misinterpreted.
Cape Verdians, and between
In Portugal, the participants of the celebrations can also be the audience
them and the Portuguese
even if they don’t live in the neighbourhood, or do not have any family link
people. This work proposes an
with Cape Verde. Who goes to the neighbourhood to attend the KSJ
analysis of the processes
celebrations have already previous knowledge about this performance.
through which KSJ was
This allows to establish a dialogue and a meeting space between locals
transplanted to Portugal, with
and visitors, as a “supreme moment of understanding” (Bakhtin, 2010:378).
regard to how its
It means, the neighbourhood is a place where the meeting is possible
recontextualisation also lead to
whilst at the same time, separates the different subjects (inhabitants and
a resignification. It also raises
non-inhabitants) and allows the construction of a common world. In one
the question of patrimonial
hand, in the streets of Lisbon KSJ performance represents an extension of
classification as a mean of
FIG 1 - Kola San Jon’s Feast in Cova da Moura neighbourhood (2009).
the neighbourhood. In other hand, in Portugal the neighbourhood
represents an extension of Cape Verde.
reclassifying identity. !
Experiences of KSJ in Portugal
In Cape Verde, the KSJ constitutes a local performance, in which
everybody are welcome to participate. It is defined as a type of tacit
Arendt, Hannah (2007), A Condição Humana. Rio de Janeiro: Editora
knowledge, despite the fact that each person has its own understanding of
Forense Universitária. [Trad de Roberto Raposo] [1958].
it. As it is not regarded as a folkloric practice, the audience are also
Bakhtin, Mikhail (2010) Estética da Criação Verbal. São Paulo: Martins
participants in the performance. When a Cape Verdian institution publicises
Fontes. (Tradução de Paulo Bezerra)
the St. John’s Day celebrations, and includes KSJ in the programme, the
Ranciére, Jacques (2006), “O Dissenso”, in Adauto Novaes (org.), A crise
institution addresses to the potential participants who are simultaneously
da razão. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras
themselves, i.e., Cape Verdians, performers and organisers of KSJ.
On the other hand, in Cova da Moura, KSJ adresses to all those who live in
the neighbourhood, mainly Cape Verdian immigrants and their
descendants. It also adresses to all those who wish to participate in the
festivities and access the neighbourhood in order to be involved. In this
regard, the neighbourhood constitutes a microcosm of the space of origin
through an action of civic reciprocity (Rancière 2006) that offers the KSJ
performers the opportunity to represent themselves and the others.

Ana Flávia Miguel, Susana Sardo Department of Communication