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Examine The Political Significance Of Any Carnival Of Your Choice.

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Alastair Stone:012930 Examine The Political Significance Of Any Carnival Of Your Choice For a long time now carnival has existed in societies all over the world as a wildcard in the deck of structure and order, since the early medieval times carnivals have been rejoiced as a concentrated form naturalistic freedom. The Notting Hill Carnival is world renowned as a ground for multicultural carnival-style behaviour and is the largest street carnival in Europe. The ethnic diversity is immense and it often signals a time for migrated families to invite their extended families to experience the event with them. It is problematic to attempt to describe exactly what the essence of carnival is through written language, but in political terms everything that is ordinary and is the result of socio-hierarchical inequality or any other from of inequality is non-carnival. There is a lot more to be said about popular culture and a term that Mikhail Bakhtin refers to as "carnivalesque" which we shall explore later, however to really understand the political significance of Notting Hill Carnival we must go back to it's roots. Through the studies of Abner Cohen and more recently Precious Williams we can look back to how the carnival was created, why it was staged, the problems it has caused and the many changes it has gone through in the past decades. The carnival was started by Rahunee Laslett who was a local community leader and former social worker. ...read more.


The police target areas where they know they can remove the ethnic contingent and in turn appease the wealthy population of the area. The crime-rate may have gone down but this is more than likely be due to the way the area is policed, the rich middle-class cocaine snorting contingent are left to their devices while the West Indians and other ethnicities are being stopped and searched. In Precious Williams' piece she makes the point that burglary has fallen by 34 per cent and street crime by 30 per cent, but you have got to ask yourself whether this is a true reflection of actual crime rate or just a result of the police concentrating on certain areas of crime and increasing patrols in the ethnic areas. This has had a knock on effect to the carnival and in recent years with the black population not attending quite as readily as previous years. Unemployed Westbourne Park resident say about the carnival in Williams' piece "it's too white and to commercial" a view backed up by the fact that it is now sponsored by Richard Branson's Virgin company and Kiss FM radio. To make the carnival even more inaccessible to the poorer black population the price of purchasing pretty much anything at the carnival has risen to astronomic proportions and you are more likely to be paying a fiver for a bottle of Evian then drinking West Indian punch. ...read more.


It is also a strong disappointment because of the success and popularity of what has become such a large event, one that still maintains its traditional aims set out by Laslett almost forty years ago. This lack of support creates a vicious circle that means that carnival receives bad press for any trouble or accidents that occur, which may have been prevented with professional organisation. Funding has always been poor and it quite often means that the artists who contribute to the fair are left out of pocket and with a mad rush in the early August months to create their pieces. Carnival is a form of cultural expression that is essential to our society, some argue that it acts as a valve to vent pressure and essentially worry that the sheer scale of the event is a threat to authority. However like Bakhtin I disagree with this notion, instead seeing carnival as a relative ground from which we are able to objectively observe our own society and lives. It has the ability to create a plain of existence that is flat, where co-existence is in a non-hierarchical and naturalistic human expression strives over the barriers that are usually in place. Not only do I consider carnival essential in this political respect but also because of its status as a popular form of mass jollification, something that often goes unnoticed amongst all the controversy created around the carnival. If laughter is meant to be the best medicine then The Notting Hill Carnival is as important to our modern society as penicillin. ...read more.

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