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Bali, the Camera, and Dance: Performance Studies and the Lost Legacy of the Mead/Bateson Collaboration Author(s):

Sally Ann Ness Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 67, No. 4 (Nov., 2008), pp. 1251-1276 Published by: Association for Asian Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20203485 . Accessed: 27/02/2012 17:13
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The Journal Asian Studies Vol. 67, No. 4 (November) 2008: 1251-1276. of ? 2008 The Associationfor Asian Studies, Inc. doi:10.1017/S0021911808001770

Bali, the Camera, Collaboration

and Dance:



andThe Lost Legacy of the Mead/Bateson

Working in the late 1930s, anthropologists Gregory Bateson and an Margaret Mead made extraordinary advance in the understanding of human performance. They observed bodily practices constituting processes of more signification that resembled linguistic communication far closely than had ever been suspected. The Mead/Bateson theory of human performance pre to figured research inperformance studies that has only recently begun challenge convictions regarding the ephemerality of symbolic action. Essen poststructural tial to Mead and Bateson s achievement was theirpioneering use of film. Equally vital, however, was their construction of Bali as a place, phenomenologically was a cosmo speaking. The Bali inwhich Mead and Bateson lived and worked localized product of their own design, to an extent contem politan yet excessively porary perspectives find highly problematic. Nonetheless, the actual complexities can be seen to have intervened into their colla ofBalinese history and culture borative process inways that enabled pathbreaking insights. in Bali


I said I was going to Bali, you said: "If I were going to Bali, I would study one of the we have tried to do. gesture." And that is things to Franz Boas fromMargaret Mead upon leaving Bali on board theM. V ?Letter Maatsuycker, passing through Torres Strait,March 29, 1938 extraordinary advance in the of human anthropological understanding in Bali in the late 1930s, when cultural anthropologists


and Margaret Mead spent two years living among Balinese to the families and experimenting with an original, visually oriented approach of culture. As Meads letter to her mentor, Franz Boas, indicates, Mead study was led to think of Bali as a place where gesture merited careful observation. an new In this she and Bateson developed regard, entirely ethnographic technol ogy to do it justice. The approach and cinematic technology, and 1999, 1). Much less well entailed it is the extensive use of both photographic as in visual pioneering recognized today however, is the achievement by Mead

performance Gregory Bateson


anthropology (Birdwhistell1977; Grimshaw 2001; Jacknis1988, 160; Sullivan


Sally Ann Ness


is Professor



at the University of California, Riverside.


SallyAnn Ness
of a kind of high point in the anthropological and Bateson theory of choreo

and Bateson graphic


articulated a perspective on the movement that no one of their gener meaning-making capabilities of human body or the came near. The ation, generation following them, anywhere couple observed During of conveying abstract forms of intelligence pre the constructions of viously depend upon linguistic syntax alone. In so doing, they enlarged exponentially the conceptual framework applicable to the to it a new semantic dimension that illuminated study of symbolic action, adding a relationships between the "verbal" and the "nonverbal" with degree of subdety The theory Mead and Bateson articulated?or previously unimaginable. rough practices assumed to capable it?is in the field of equivalents of only very recently being visited performance as well as in to consider research. Scholars have just studies, anthropological begun the capacity of for such as bodily performance configuring symbolic processes abstraction, and related forms of generalization inscription, conceptualization, thatwill enable a fundamental revision and reassessment of the relationships sym bolic action can maintain with with cultural forms of language, subjectivity, and with the practice of as

symbolism. their Balinese work, Mead

even in itsmost everyday life, practical domains.2 The high point of in Bali the Mead/Bateson collaboration prefigured this contemporary interest of in a way that is as remarkable as it is see performance theory puzzling, given the manner inwhich itwas formulated and mingly unwitting argued. It is this neglected "place," that forms the subject of this essay. The motivating question here is how, pre was instrumental to Bateson and Mead in their cisely, Bali performance-oriented research. Could Bateson in and Mead have made the advance thinking about anthropologically of studying, experiencing, and interacting? a Bateson and Mead arrived on Bali variety of theoretical heavily laden with was conceived within universalist para baggage. Their methodological approach to support research in any context. These factors not digms designed geographic the lived experience of Bali as it to have withstanding, actually unfolded appears not Bateson shaped significantly only but also, theirmost eventually, general ance. In the particular, choreographic
as a subset practice technical that

high point, and the significance that Bali was conceived, phenomenologically

of its

in the production for Mead and Bateson

choreographic symbolism that they did anywhere that they cultivated for themselves through their


the Bali-located


driven way

and Mead's technological developments, theoretical arguments on human perform on which Mead and Bateson were genres

understood formative

of the entire simultaneously

repetitive essential and


SallyAnn Ness (2008).

its motility?its 2For examples

foregrounded drive to move.

characterizes range of symbolic action, "choreographic" per meets criteria: three sustained and (1) It requires general as an involvement (theatrical "rehearsal"); (2) it employs corporeal feature of experience; and (3) it derives from significance primarily along these lines, see Mark Franko (2007) and Carrie Noland and

of recent work

Bali, theCamera, and Dance

led to focus exhibited


the type of highly rule-governed, technical struc precisely tures that facilitated their theoretical In this respect, the Mead/ breakthrough. a Bateson collaboration between foregrounds complex interrelationship method,

in both as it is precon theory, and place anthropological practice?place as it is, in fact, encountered?that is of to ethno ceived and general relevance in It seems evident their field research and inquiry. reviewing graphic that the complexities of Balinese life intervened in the collaborative publications inways that enabled the anthropologists' most pathbreaking insights.




be seen as the integration of two highly place-specific two universities. These Columbia and Cambridge respective New experience. York City and English cultural

The Mead/Bateson collaborationlasted roughly from1936 until 1942. It can

schools of places, thought: those of in their embedded to complicate

the significantly multivocalityof Bah inMead and Batesons imaginationand The anthropologists met in first December 1932while undertaking researchin



After spending the summers of 1933 and 1934 together, theywere en route to Bali. Bateson, in 1936 in married the son of the Singapore while as both a natural William Bateson, was trained at Cambridge naturalist-geneticist scientist and a social He considered himself a Cam product of the anthropologist. as well as the intellectual bridge structural-functionalist school of cultural analysis, New Guinea.


heir to the biological work of his father.3Mead was an American-born, American educated student of Franz Boas, the leader of the Columbia anthropology faculty. She was trained in a strongly empirical, descriptivist became approach?what known, in no small part because of Mead s own work, as participant observation.4 was to be given depth and explanatory power by Bate particularistic work son s was systemic orientation. Batesons strongly societal focus complicated and Meads focus on individual experience and coherence by given methodological s

one other research project focused project followed major ethnographic on the Iatmul inNew Guinea. For Mead, it followed a number of pro thirty-four, focused variously on several New Guinea cultural groups, on the Native jects American Omaha, and on Samoans. Mead had long since published the best

her outstanding organizational and documentary skills. Itwas, from an intellectual an perspective, extraordinarily complementary match. For Bateson, who was thirty-one at the time of his arrival on Bah, the Bali nese

sellingComing of Age in Samoa (1928) and three other books on her New
Bateson's comments in David Lipset (1982, 144-45). See also Mary (2003, Bowman-Kruhm and (2003,


64, 71), Lipset (1982, 101-48), and George W. Stocking,Jr.(1995, 430), on Bateson's training.
4Accounts 136-38). of Mead's See can be found in Bowman-Kruhm training account also Mead's 209). (1972, 116-34, 15-44) Lipset


Guinea choice

SallyAnn Ness
research. of Bali In both biographical site is and autobiographical accounts of the


minance related

to have been Mead's alone. Her reported resulted in her taking the lead in this regard, as well as in the of the research problem and the framing methodology designed to it.Accounts to Mead to exhibit a report that Bali appeared implement predo research career identified as a dissociative performance, which Mead to of her own research interests. Accounts schizophrenia?one of trance behavior

couples planning process (Bowman-Kruhm2003, 70; Mead

as a research

1977b, 153), the

in these terms, as devel represented having access to the little-known, and oped through Mead's privileged academically work of a single junior, Bali-based artistically specialized colleague. In addition to these must also be remembered facts, however, it biographical generally that Mead's selection of Bali had to have been influenced in a more

go on to that Mead had gained this of Bali from former student, specify understanding Belo, who had worked in Bali for several years alongside her husband, musi Jane cian Colin McPhee, films of Balinese and Bateson's ritual.6 Mead producing initial attraction to Bali is

general way at this time entered into the popular understanding of Bali that had by already New York cultural life, not to mention the global imagination. By 1936, Bali had gained international fame as a tourist destination for and American European and artists. Its performance traditions had established an imagined a number of York society through routes. presence highly publicized in 1931 at the Paris The Balinese dancers who Coloniale Exposition appeared intellectuals in New International had been such as Isle of Paradise and Denis 1932), and given (Trego international media attention. Travelogue 1932), Goona-goonarLove particularly Henry de la Falaises Balinese Powder"(Roosevelt


Virgins (1935), presented performance as well.8 The art of to audiences popular Miguel Covarrubias, which depicted Balinese performers, was also at this time. shown in New York being galleries a awareness These of Bali, at representations generated popular Orientalist least among the intellectual circles of New York in some fashion to Mead apparently articulated While no record has been made of either Boas gesture. society, that Franz Boas had in his comments about Balinese s or Mead's reactions

Legong: Dance of the in exoticized, eroticized contexts


it is certain that both were well aware of such popular representations, virtually the public image of Bali they served to define. Bali's cosmopolitan identity,while it was never to be in Mead and Bateson's research directly acknowledged


5Bowman-Kruhm (2003, 31-70), JaneHoward

summaries (1984, of Mead's 6Howard provides of trance as a "dissociative" the first Balinese 182) professional the most detailed

(1984), and Mead

prior discussion came to her work from Belo. in the United


(1972, 137-207) all provide

in Bali. relationship. The

of the Mead-Belo

understanding documents


Coast (2004). Coast Regarding theBalinese dancers performingat theParis Exposition, see John
as well dance performance States in 1952.


8See Peter Bloom and Katherine J.Hagedorn (2004) on themaking of Bali traveloguesand their

Bali, theCamera, and Dance


Mead, with her ambitions for international celebrity status, had?something would have been only too ready to harness for her own purposes. Mead was in it was a with her drawn to Bali because dialogue place already engaged New York City. much-beloved s influence it and Bateson s determi being what might, Mead Popular culture nation towork in Bali was, to use the most charitable terms employed to describe 178). The mation, couple s

can be and, in fact, was at least indirectly obscured, nonetheless publications, seen as a contextual factor. It endowed Bali with a symbolic force significant that went far beyond what other, genuinely unfamiliar localities might have

motivatedmainly by "theoretical"interests(Jacknis 1988, 60; Mead 1977a, it,

lifewas, by Mead s own esti of Balinese scholarly knowledge Meads characterization of their preparation "fragmentary" (1977b, 153).

reads, "We had seen just enough material in filmsand stillphotographs,had heard just enough of the music studied by Colin McPhee, and read just
enough in greeted culture we wanted s careful records of the ceremonies with which the Balinese Jane Belo the terrible disaster of the birth of twins to assure us that this was the to work on"

discussed and husband at that time?had professional partner as at writ the manuscripts large" (Mead 1972, 206) theory of culture "personality a great length. The group had developed typology of four cultural "tempera known as "the squares" that became ments" 2003, 66) (Bowman-Kruhm Fortune?Mead one

and York City's popular culture, Mead aca another formative, truly Bateson s preconceptions shaped by theoretical influence. This was the manuscript Patterns of Culture, by demic, in New Guinea, Mead, Bateson, and Reo Benedict. While anthropologist Ruth In addition of Bali were s

it (1972, 224). Given their limited background, sNew Yorker intellectual should come as no surprise that Bali?Mead rendering as a rich in culturally informative of it?emerged initially place exceptionally was to cul was one that the sense of couple place choreographic practices. This tivate throughout their research experience. to Belo s films and New

was men and women. Balinese square posited for Balinese temperament men and to "Turk" Manus in direct opposition cast as a "fey" cultural type, as women and Arapesh and in contrast to Mundugumor types temperament were meant to more than well. The labels referred to gestural contrasts; they or a holistic cultural of life.Mead and Bateson never published suggest style way it acted as an a priori mold into any work on this temperament model. However, some have in Bali was cast, which their experience argued, distort affecting, and, interactions.9 ing significantly their interpretation of Balinese

(Mead 1972, 218; Sullivan 2004, 101). The typologyincluded, sightunseen,

Bowman-Kruhm (2003, 66-67), Dolores Janiewski (2004, 7), Gerald Sullivan (1999, 21; 2004, 101), Mead (1972, 217), and Lipset (1982, 137-38). Sullivan (2004), in particular,argues that the "fey" typeMead and Bateson developed for Bali governed their entire field research




of Benedict's



the Mead/Bateson




SallyAnn Ness
Guinea research and Bateson's experiences were to have their own formative influ

understanding of their initial two-year stay on Bali, the couple returned to the Sepik pletion for a of sixmonths to compare their observations region of New Guinea period inter of New Guinea of the Balinese with more closely parallel observations actions.10 Mead later characterized the entire research

ence on Mead

of Bali as well.

In 1938, at the com

Iatmul field trip" (1977b, 153), permanentlyconjoining the two places in her
memory. heavily She commented in the letter to Boas Guinea when cited earlier on material from New engaged that she depended on Bali in observation


as the "Bali

border on the bizarre that the Iatmul areal view was,

(1977b, 213).11 The extreme to which thiswas takenmight well seem to

from an Asianist loomed comparison itwas no accident perspective. However, or other larger than any featuring Hindu-

Buddhist-identified places in South or SoutheastAsia. Such a SoutheastAsianist

it tended, in her opinion (1972, 232), invalid because or as a of derived Bali "degraded" Hindu-Buddhist reading, place to be a diminutive Rather than accept what she and Bateson practice. judged and distorted view, the anthropologists chose to ignore such existing scholarship inMead's to construe to a great extent. Neither, for example, ever learned Dutch (Howard 1984, 195;


was the language in which themajorityof Jacknis1988, 152),which at the time

from this perspective to had been written. In addition

work ofMiguel Covarrubias,whose 1937 textIsland ofBali contained extensive

Korn relevant ethnographic data (Jensen and Suryani 1992, 53). The work of V. E. no reference (Boon 1977, 228 on the areas of Bali was also given upland

and Bateson also religiously focused comparative work, Mead literature. omitted consideration of other key works in the extant ethnographic unaware of, or otherwise chose to were the written ignore, They apparently

an of Bali, "their" Instead, the anthropologists developed understanding Bali, as a place largely unstudied, or, perhaps more accurate, as a place previously that were not relevant to their project. studied for purposes In sum, Mead and Bateson endeavored distinct, original cultural "base" (Bateson centers around the world, those of the Sepik indigenous

n. 2).

to imagine and experience Bali as a to and Mead 1942, xi-xii) comparable region of New Guinea


and the Abnormal," which Mead and Bateson from a 1934 essay, coming mainly "Anthropology to while have had access for Bali, after their return from would their research planning proposal New Guinea. 10See Bowman-Kruhm and 1939. Bowman-Kruhm an (2003, 72-73) for a chronicle of Mead and Bateson spent s activities Guinea notes that the exact of Batesons of time in New on

(1984, 189-90), however, attributesBenedicts influenceon theMead/Bateson project inBali as


it into a search

to substantiate




of this type in Bali. Howard

question, citing conflicting reports in Mead

(1982, Iatmul. 11See also Meads comments in Blackberry 155) provides example

(1972, 261) and Ira Jacknis (1988, 162). Lipset

comparative (1972, perspective 214). the Balinese and the


1938 during is open to



the Camera,

and Dance


a controversial and seemingly among them. It was, and remains, one that choice of perspective, unnecessary arbitrarily excluded recognition of the Southeast Asian or broader Asian historical and cultural context. The knowl foremost sacrificed may well seem essential from many scholarly in it perspectives. perform Ironically, may also have been critical for the advance ance the couple was ultimately to achieve, as it served to focus their atten theory in action that exhibited their tion on forms of symbolic quasi-linguistic patterning edge Mead and Bateson of cultural practice. highly localized domains the scholarly work on Bali The for omitting from consideration justification on one The their line of argument. characterized anthropologists hung radical in one respect. research, and with good reason, as genuinely They means a to of develop nonlinguistic studying culturally patterned sought as Mead and Bateson later termed it (1942, behavior?culture "embodied," orientation was antiverbal, that set the couples work something on the island. Their from any conducted apart methodology, they previously to be distortions had the benefit of preventing what were assumed argued, on their that linguistic symbolism would inevitably have imposed analysis. seem from it Bateson However contemporary perspectives, unlikely might xii). The and Mead believed died organization Their challenge, a direct line into the embo they could achieve perceptual of everyday and ritual life (Bateson and Mead 1942, xi-xii).12 was to carry out research that would as in this regard, qualify a nonverbal means of inquiry that would be anthropo

scientific, implementing driven documentary heretofore

logically legitimate.They achieved this through the novel, technologically

strategy of employing cameras as their central investigative uncharted, "nonver

tool. The utilization of cinematic and photographic technology justified the

unimaginable, possibly romantic, academically and Bateson espoused. bal" orientation that Mead


Encountered Once

on Bali, Bateson and Mead found they were able they actually arrived even their to maintain an intensity of research that exceeded highest expect was ations. Intra-island transport available, informed entr?e to commu readily nities all over the island was colleagues, and the staggered by their network of immediately established schedule of Balinese ritual life was in normal

of preverbal in favor of theories largely rejected between and verbal forms of aware reintegrating positing evolving, continually bodily relationships interest in Mead and Bateson's ness, learning, and understanding. Nonetheless, using embodied as a to enter into an inves from which rather than starting point experience, linguistic symbolism, remains valid in and cultural between embodied tigation of the relationships experience practice Sklar 2001). studies (see, e.g., Hahn 2007; contemporary performance 12Mead human experience, has been

and Bateson's

conduct that embodied theory unmediated entirely by language,


ever be,


in the case


SallyAnn Ness

an events. of ongoing calendar of performance operation, providing Examples ritual performance were viewed on a weekly, if not daily basis, and on Balinese occasion even more than once a day (Mead 1977, 156-214).13 The anthropolo into observation and recording with great energy (Jensen and gists delved the mountain village of Bayung life. They divided their time between the where smaller-scale rituals and daily practices were observed; Ged?,14 interior town of Bangli, where observations were catalogued and organized; where they interacted with families of higher caste, as well as expatri and Batuan, Balinese ate collaborators.

connectingpatternsof Suryani 1992, 34; Lipset 1982, 153), seeking to identify

conviction that Bali was, in fact, the precisely the place they Despite general was not to realities before unexpected had imagined it to be, it impose began long themselves. Most important, their methodology, when adapted to the actualities of Balinese data. The performance, soon volume began exceeded to an quantity ever-mushrooming produce and forced the couple all projections He shot more to shoot.1 of to

modify substantially their working process. Bateson was the main technician in the collaboration. times the amount the team had

than Mead

25,000 stillphotographs and more than 22,000 feet of 16-millimeterfilm?



a reported (1972, 234; 1977, 155) thatBateson devoted considerable amount was to be used?skills of time to rollingand chemically readyingthe film that
acquired in Bali that became to his integral focus of Bateson's of place. experience efforts. However, he



Ritual performances were a prominent filmed them along with countless instances of everyday interactions, focusing pri on and sibling interactions. marily parent-child who had planned to focus on directing the filming and making written Mead, in her its contents, also encountered unforeseen developments descriptions of from overseeing the implementation of what has work. Aside observational


Ged?] we took some 600 photographs, developed 1,500 photographs, covered threemajor cer babies of bad eye trouble, scabies, or dysentery" (1977, 204). See alsoMead nial orthography (Bajoeng Ged?), standardat the time.
15Bateson's film shooting is documented in Sullivan (1999, 5-6, 14The contemporary spelling is used for all Balinese locations. Mead emonies, photographed fifteen babies to record their present state and cured most of the same



letter from Bali,




"in a



[to Bajoeng

(1972, 235).
used Dutch colo

and Bateson

71), Jacknis (1988, 162), and Lipset (1982, 157). See Mead (1972, 234-36) forher own account which necessitated additional supplies and of the unexpected increase in film recording activity, ordered and purchased fromBali. Most of this filmmaterial, housed at the equipment being
Library reports complete of Congress, that "to this remains day set of positive unanalyzed, there is neither prints" (1999, of Sullivan (1999). Sullivan significant exception nor an even set of contact prints reasonably complete notes that some documents of 18). He put the number with a the as "vast" in scale. See also Howard (1984,192) and

11, 15), Bowman-Kruhm


n. photographs closer to 28,000 (1999, 191 3). Mead

Jacknis (1988,161) also describes the research

(1972, 235).


the Camera,

and Dance


Mead concentrated on (Jacknis 1988, 165), notes with Bateson's she com recordings. Here, synchronizing her descriptive As her experi notes" modeled after posed "running field performance scripts.18 ence grew, Mead's than she became more graphically detailed?more techniques since been called "film elicitation" had

team believed had no anthropologicalcorollaries (Mead 1972, 236; 1977, 155). Mead described the advance to Boas in 1938:
Where would occasionally made run to two typewritten pages before I a over time which sample of behavior for an hour, we now have records of

ever be the case. imagined might In these "new territory" for Mead and Bateson. The regards, Bali became ideal conditions for their data collection, the resources of the expatriate commu Bateson nity, and the character of the practices they witnessed, combined with own virtuosic efforts, of a type that the and Mead's produced descriptions

stills for the same period. The recording is so much finer that I feel as if at different levels from any work I've done I were working previously.

15 typewritten pages and 200 feetofCin? and a couple ofhundredLeica

(1977b, 213)19

Personality and the Behavior that exemplified this "finer" level. Disorders, published Americans and Balinese, noting that the He compared finger positions among as in what appear to us to be distorted latter "leave their fingers positions, Bateson, a set of observations

in a later article written

for the volume

in The accelerated tempo and volume of observational activity, conjunction that lent itself to highly elaborated defi with a style of human body movement a new sense of and Bateson. While Belo's nition, produced place for Mead of the island's ritual life, the films had given them a carefully mediated glimpse to take account of a much on-site research the anthropologists compelled more complicated

riotingover thebody at funerals" (1944a, cited inLipset 1982, 153).

or a sense organ ... the ten were a separate entity separate though each finger to disharmonie increases in the extreme excitement of finger postures, dency



reality. Details

of performances'


17Film elicitation

by Balinese-speaking both while en route she had the some

film footage in assistants

to Bali


as a basis for in interviews. Mead was assisted engaging subjects such interviews. Mead studied Balinese with Bateson, conducting and the time spent on the island. It is clear from all accounts that during more Bateson was of Balinese, skilled in knowledge although evidently

18Bowman-Kruhm(2003, 71), Mead (1972, 231), and especially Sullivan (1999) describe Mead's technique of synchronizedfilmingand notation. Sullivan (1999, 10-11), Jacknis (1988, 162-65), and Lipset (1982, 152) describe the divisionof labor.Lipset notes that Mead again played a domi nant role indeciding how thework would be organized.
in which cites a letter "a new and Mead she describes interesting similarly, by sometimes that was with this very concentrated associated "definitely looking fatigue" at confused and colorful crowds" hours without (1984, 192). stopping, 19Howard, type of for 4-^5



SallyAnn Ness

conduct began to cohere into observed stylistic parameters. Bateson and Mead over and over demonstrations of the same technical and again choreographic at The walk of Balinese women's ritual dance, the principles play. undulating the abruptly shift vibrating spatial constellations of dancers' finger movements, as well as numerous other ing patterns of eye and facial gestures, aspects of per formance as hallmark characteristics that would technique, emerged eventually as a reveal themselves to Bateson and Mead forming dynamic, constantly reba lancing template for the organization of many forms of social interaction. Bah of ritual practice, but a place


in their a not experience, simply place of technically articulate behavior.

a subjects from variety of locations throughout the island. The latter now included such as category practices dancing, cockfighting, woodcarving, trance gestures found in rites of painting, and prayer and passage, calendrical cer and death and marriage In addition, ceremonies. emonies, they had collected adult Balinese about ments. Mead 1,000 carvings that further illustrated typical posture and gestural place Detailed at the "new" level, as descriptive notations?documentation a team of three Bali termed it?had been compiled by Mead, Bateson, and Itwas this lattermaterial that evidenced what Mead later charac

time their research came to an end, Mead to Boas (1977b, By the reported that the accumulated mass of material covered, 212) photographic systematically, a of both and "stylized" activity for children and array comprehensive "everyday"

nese assistants.

in was the novel, terized as "a quantum leap" descriptive analysis (1972, 223). It character of this evidence that compelled Mead to and Bateson unanticipated return to New Guinea for additional research (Mead 1972, 136). The extent to which the extraordinary quantity and quality of non-verbally on Balinese life is not focused work factored intoMead and Bateson s gen findings in accounts of their collaboration.20 Accounts more often stress erally foregrounded and Bateson had already for to their theories among others. With regard most seems valid. the plentiful evi general arguments, this perspective Despite dence gained from their multisited research that Balinese life was extremely varied in terms of social status, occupation, and and location, Mead geographic mulated in discussions of Benedicts Bateson a superficial features of At the end of their single, island-wide way of life. two-year stint,Mead wrote, convinced It has been remained that such variations were how their technical work reinforced conclusions Mead

customary to say that the mountain villages of Bali are almost on completely different from the higher culture of the Plains, and yet analy sis the basic patterns turn out to be almost identical... So one of the things we to do is hope lay down the pattern of Balinese culture, in skeleton, in
for Sullivan, example, ... not primarily logical states that the increase transition," in was methodo activity photographic "primarily to have and that it did not "seem stimulated

a theoretical

were in the field" (1999, 15-16; see also Bateson and Mead's thinking while they Jacknis 1988, 163-73).

Bali, theCamera, and Dance


and locality variations may be put in relevandy The

caste and economic such a way thatthedifferential fleshof thedifferent

(1977b, 213-14)21

was already the case.22 to their with However, thinking about human performance specifically? regard as or "character"?the to observational and "temperament," opposed documentary on Bali deserves to be viewed in a different conducted work Bateson and Mead turely decided light.

seems in this models influence of the Benedict-inspired particularly strong Bateson general interpretive regard. Scholars have rightly questioned whether time and energy on Bali and Mead spent their actually investigating their hypoth illustrate what they had prema esis, or merely collecting evidence that would

In this appears to have forced the particular regard, their methodology to defer any interpretation of the behavior they observed?psychoanalytic, couple or otherwise?so as to continue structural-functionalist, Melanesian-contrasted, a it It appears to have attu analyzing descriptively. produced degree of descriptive or achieved in nement never before attempted ethnographic research. With regard to innovations the occurring improvisa performance, unplanned methodological notions of how to while in Bali appear to have overridden preconceived tionally mode of that Mead and working in and of itself, to have enabled new mean Bateson achieved well be seen, might of Balinese bodily practice to come to light. Bateson and Mead's visual strat ings egy, in other words, validated by the cameras' capability to preserve and store the could be posited as activity witnessed, new of understanding choreographic seem to have trumped theory. However, was inMead and that Bali place actually seems for reasons that problematic, illuminate.23 having been solely responsible for their on its own, may symbolism. Method, an assessment leaves the distinctive such experience unrecognized. This the following discussion will seek to analyze The and observe human extenuation action and interaction. of the observational


21The although


about Bah is trueof all of Bali" given the differencesbetween districtsand villages. a Mead and Bateson 22Jacknis(1988, 172), citing lectureby Hildred Geertz (1983), reports that
came to a specific awareness of a Balinese style of cultural patterning on July 31, 1936, and

is for this observation made argument given in this version, Bateson and Mead also emphasize

in Bateson that "no

and Mead single concrete




spent the rest of their research period attempting to document thishypothetical style.Sullivan concurs (2004, 203), as do Gordon D. Jensen and Luh Ketut Suryani (1992, 45-47), citing Victor Barnouw's critique (1985, 123). JamesBoon (1977, 67) argues that Mead (1970) fell into the "ethnologicalpitfall"of accepting a priori "the fallacyof inbuilt harmony, perfect integration, which herwork with Bateson thendocumented. [and] super systemics," field research, Mead and Bateson returnedtoNew York.Although their work 23After finishingtheir was repeatedly interrupted World War II, they continued to analyze and write on Balinese by culture togetherfrom 1939 until 1942?the year that marked the dissolution of theirpartnership (Bowman-Kruhm 2003, 84; Howard 1984, 243-69; Lipset 1982, 163, 175) and the publication
of the A coauthored Character; work, Balinese only Photographic main written the collaboration's theoretical argument, by Mead, This Analysis. for the presence text presented of a coherent


SallyAnn Ness
High Point


now to the its in Turning high point itself and significance performance theory in an essay written in 1949, Bateson and symbolic anthropology more generally,24 set forth his of the cultures of the Iatmul and the comparative understanding Balinese. The essay gives one of the most succinct and summaries compelling of the Mead/Bateson and will be used here to characterize collaboration the

Batesonian versionof it (Mead 1977a, 178). high point?albeit a distinctively

The a discussion essay begins with of why Bateson discarded

some of the

to Bali. In the concept of schismogenesis?the particular, regenerative not appear suitable for the "vicious" circle?did social life. Bali study of Balinese was nese cultural practice alternatively structured, Bateson argued. Noncompe in states"?were described titive, nonmaximizing patterns of conduct?"steady cases of economic landmark usage, group transactions, values, membership council policies on money transactions, abstract notions of conduct village right or etiquette, and ritual activities. The essay drew examples from observations pre (Bateson and Mead 1942). a critical in the formulation of his then took step argument. He syn state in terms of a thesized his theory of the Balinese steady corporeal He identified the moving of a tightrope walker as "metaphor." figure exemplify Bateson ing the pattern the Balinese 119), daily way, according life. "The sented in Balinese Character

theoreticaltoolshe had developed inhiswork with the Iatmulwhen he turned

inmany contexts of Balinese culture" (1972,120; bly applicable emphasis added). The corporeal metaphor, in Batesons could be applied to domains of observation, cultural life that were not always centered or dependent upon bodily practice.

like a tightrope walker, afraid at any moment lest he make some misstep" He then is here that his it (1972, 120).25 argued?and theory of performance to take is demonstra from postural balance "[t]he metaphor began shape?that

to cope, in a employed "permissible" way (1972, to the Balinese of dadi, with the contingencies of concept Bateson individual Balinese," "is forever reported, picking his

cultural hundred


is not Fear fore puzzling. generally it is an of such acts, although to be that tends to manifest the limits of his appears betraying in this aside, as well as the influence of Mead's of such performances understanding psychoanaly In any case, the focus on fear is absent from the not tical approach. analysis and does subsequent a role in Bateson's main argument. play 25The being "afraid" grounded emotion performers' in spectators. Bateson experiences

alone key essays on the Balinese collaboration in 1944, 1946, 1949, and 1967, while Mead sub sequentlypublished an additional photographic study in 1951 and a series of six additional films (Jacknis 1988). Discussion of the Balinese fieldwork also appeared in a number of articles focused on related topics as well (Mead 1949, 1956, 1963, 1970). 24More extensivediscussions of thishigh point can be found inNess (2007, 2008).
comment about the walker tightrope in the documentation of master is

running through the whole to that photographs sought visually

of Balinese substantiate

a selection life, and provided went on this claim. Bateson

of several to publish


the Camera,

and Dance


were Among the domains identified and Bateson as a theme in Balinese

the fear of loss of support, posited by Mead the distinctive design of bodily childhood; some trance seen in Balinese postures and gestures carvings; and, in performance acts the whole body of a performer, which were interpreted as events, elevating in Balinese Char representing expressions of respect. Again, photographic plates acter were cited as illustrations. Bateson closed his discussion with a more complex

argument regarding the source of the cultural sum it seems that the motile embodied pattern, writing, "In Balinese extend to human relationships attitudes based upon bodily balance, and that they generalize the idea thatmotion is essential to balance" The (1972,125). steady posited state that he as emergent identified as the Balinese cultural Bateson from bodily performance. in character. was ultimately template observed it as fundamen

tally choreographic The articulated in this final quotation encapsulates the theory high point pro It duced the Mead/Bateson collaboration with regard to performance by theory. on a as in its is Batesonian systematic Idea," decidedly emphasis complex, to an affective which constitutes the core of the cultural relationship, opposed to the It is unusual in comparison majority of anthropological highly pattern.26 at the time and hence forward. work on choreographic symbolism To elaborate very briefly on its uniqueness, the Mead/Bateson theory of Bali is the basis of a cul claims not only that bodily performance tural template, but also that this basis is a structuring of intelligence of a is It is an intelligence that relationship oriented and observed particular kind. performance to have nese

the capacity for extension into verbal as well as nonverbal, ethical and as well as sacred domains of cultural as well as aesthetic, and prac profane logical on in tice. The of work both in majority choreographic symbolism anthropology, a time and since, has Mead and Batesons different view It proposed markedly has opted to take what pragmatic semiotic theory would categorize as either an iconic or an indexical view. In the former case, the meaning of choreographic in terms of its to mimic or like symbolism has been recognized ability produce nesses to intended referents. In the latter, indexical case, it is understood to signal information about the performance context.2 In marked contrast to such theories, performance the Mead/Bateson to be one of the role of choreographic theory understood generalizable designing

26Mead, however, inher introductiontoBalinese Character (1942, 48), concluded with a similar
claim. ment, was on conduct "[Balinese] centered move "is a of rhythmic, patterned unreality pleasant, significant towhich all emotion withdrew." While Mead's body long ago emphasis as to the relational, the emotional, the of she, too, recognized opposed centrality bodily as an source of cultural organizing patterning. life," she wrote, own in one's

27For influential examples of the iconic orientation,see Michael Taussig (1993) and Paul Stoller For a particularlyexplicit example, see J.Lowell Lewis (1992).With regard to indexical (1995). Drewal (1992), Roy A. Rappaport (1979) and Stanley J.Tambiah (1979, 113-69).
approaches, Jean Comaroff (1985) is an outstanding example. See also Margaret Thompson


SallyAnn Ness

was not one of the intelligence. Moreover, intelligence emerging from it simple ideas or single concepts, but to the of complex prop something loosely akin designs ositional that addressed itself to the certain logic?intelligence possibility that

ways. Bateson was quite explicit on this point. He placed great weight on the differ ence between forms of were atomistic, based on the understanding that sequential of single entities, and forms of that were systemic comprehension understanding and organized of through the comprehension relationships between multiple a elements. In the Balinese case, he argued for continuity of understanding with

aspects of certainkinds of relationships might be shown to be valid in specific

to certain were regard emergent from the per culturally pivotal relationships that was retested and retried in formance of embodied practice. This understanding new context of every "extension"?every application. The gradual cumulative result was a growing that tended toward an intelligence increasingly general under standing of the applicability of the well-balanced performative template. It is this of continuously experimental, relationship-oriented meaning and the

in his 1949 arguments about Balinese culture. In pragmatic be categorized as term-relational abductive symbolism.28 Such processes are cumulative and self-critical in precisely the idea-applying way Bateson found to be the case with Balinese bodily performance. The Mead/Bateson status to Balinese thus attributed theory quasi-logical Bateson foregrounded semiotic terms, it would

or generalizing (as opposed to differentiating mimetic) activityit enabled that


at bodily performance, observing such symbolism play throughout the whole of life. However Balinese outmoded the idea of a for "a culture" may template seem as the observation of such a in today, symbolic phenomenon inhering and originating from bodily practice remains a highly significant analytical step from the standpoint of performance To mention three consequences of theory. itundermines the assumption, currently analytic step: First, dominating post structural theories of performance, that symbolic forms of human action, particu are in character, larly dance, basically ephemeral and transient refuting the theory that is choreographic meaning impermanent, and fundamentally irrecuperable, concerned only with "the presence of absence" (Lepecki 2004). Second, it chal lenges the assumption, that embodied ance, between verbal to deconstructive theories of currently central perform is absolute other" "writing's performance (Jacques this

drawn Derrida, cited in Franko 1995), rejecting the line in the sand typically
symbolic genres. Third, the theory challenges as a container for of the trope of the significance body accumulating or nonconscious an unconscious This was, experience. important trope ironically, in Bateson's own work, as he tended to conceive of the as a reservoir for body vast amounts of that had sunk beneath conscious awareness. experience holding the universal and nonverbal

28Abductive/symbolic eralizing meanings further discussion.

semiotic within a


are defined



by of users


to establish gen ability experimental, and conditions. See Ness (2007, 2008) for


the Camera,

and Dance



grace of the classically the denced for Bateson

(Bateson 1972,128-52). ance did not categorically on or of in engaging embodied intelligence intentionally corporeal knowledge, other contexts. In this respect, Bateson left the door open for a very different con of the body, particularly with respect to the claim that "ideas" ceptualization movement processes could be in its No other evident "generalized." ethnographic research in the anthropology of performance, until quite recently, has made case for the of choreographic forms of human performance. significance such a

evi performance information-accumulating capability of the body of this bias, however, Batesons Despite theory perform the possibility of performers consciously drawing reject trained Balinese dancing body




of Bali of how Balinese and Bateson s life enabled arguments or even eventually

to the question Turning, now, mined the particular form Mead

predeter took, it

as are examined, that Balinese in performance may well have been significant The place of Bali, in other their work as was their antiverbal methodology. well deserve as much, ifnot more, of the credit forMead and Bate words, may son's "quantum leap," as do their cameras. A few possibilities, framed compara that draw upon the more technically elaborate genres of Balinese ritual tively, suggest themselves. performance, First, traditional styles of Balinese dance are markedly less invested in iconic are other In the Hindu-based gesturing than comparable performance traditions. mudra (hand gesture) tradition of the Indian Bharata Natyam, for example? which many would argue is the quintessential example of a Hindu-based perform ance tradition30?a conventional, highly developed gestural vocabulary of iconic as signs is often drawn upon to create likenesses to environmental referents such flutes, swords, lotus blossoms, the sun and moon, mountains, and rivers.31While
29The observations has taken place of Balinese intermittently (1995) for dance since here are drawn presented mainly 1990 in Southern California and, introductions to Balinese from which personal study, on a few occasions, in Bali dance traditions. Detailed

were immersed seems likely, when the kinds of bodily practice inwhich they

(Ness 1996). See IWayan Dibya and Rucina Ballinger (2004) and I Made Bandem and Fredrik
Eugene deBoer

observations fromBateson and Mead's colleagues can be found in JaneBelo (1970). For visual World Music and Dance (1988). examples, see theJVC Video Anthology of
deserves controversial. status, is, of course, Natyam "quintessential" and Kathakali classical dance also forms, among others, would Mohiniyattam, exemplify contrasts. similar comparative see Manomohan Ghosh of the iconic of Bharata Natyam, 31For descriptions gestural vocabulary ?The claim that Bharata



(1957), R. M. Hughes (1964), and Sunil Kothari (1979). For a visual example, see the/VC Video World Music and Dance (1988). It should be noted that the gesturalvocabulary of Anthology of
Bharata ization Natyam impossible. includes dominant, although an signs of arbitrary/symbolic use of these varied the combined as well. However, type types of gesturing makes iconic a are pre signs character simple


SallyAnn Ness

not all Bharata

to Bharata and other Hindu-based tra style Natyam choreographic ditions, are relatively free of iconic signification. While dances often enact narra tives of the not tend to act out these narratives Ramayana epic, they do gesturally or in a manner, as can be the case in Bharata Natyam line-by-line verse-by-verse gestural and other Indian classical forms.32 No elaborate upon in the enactment of Balinese dance in the virtuoso mudras does exist,33 and it is utilized particularly legong and bans Balinese mudras are most often used as a kind of decorative genres.34 However, ornamentation

iconic gestures, the to Natyam choreographies employ capability texts is a depict key elements from Hindu highly elaborated aspect of the tradition. some similarities in Balinese ritual traditions, in contrast, though they exhibit

code of iconic gestures is drawn dramas. A conventional array of iconic


movements. The tradition tends to use accompanying larger body are while gestures that, stylistically precise, relatively muted with regard to functions. specific depictive The presence of an elaborate gestural repertoire that was not in employed a iconic ways gave Mead case and Bateson predominantly particularly helpful in point to move iconic theories of beyond choreographic symbolism. The Bali not allow such theories to be as for simply would judged adequate the entire array of motivations and functions of gestural interpreting perform ance. The behavior that Mead and Bateson had attuned themselves to at such a fine some level was other obviously patterned carefully, complexly, reason than to act as a set of pantomimic had context

an that interpretive perspective deliberately eschewed would have cast symbolic action as "derived" or iconic survivals of "degraded" at this point. South Asian traditions factored critically into their understanding did not end their analysis by grasping at such an They prematurely explanation, something they might otherwise have been strongly inclined to do. Mead and Bateson Second, Balinese ritual performance rule-governed, technically advanced have been classified under the global category of "classical" They performance ?a are too well aware. fact of which Mead and Bateson were, if anything, They in technical and institutionalization of training processes comparable complexity to the court traditions of India, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia, not traditions are among the most complexly traditions of Southeast Asia. choreographic

and articulately for signals. The fact that



Wiratini (1991).

to Balinese artist Maria dance Talamantes communication, (personal 33According May 24, 2007), as "the movement mudras Balinese include gestures such of a deer's assigned specific meanings the curtain," and someone." Con antlers," "opening "going away," "making supplication," "seeking actions also have been established ventional mimetic for such actions as and crying. Tala kissing mantes that the present of codification be the recent, developed suggests may degree by a closer National Institute for Indonesian Arts in an effort to establish link with India through in contrast to the dance and to claim a Balinese "Hinduistic" nation. identity Islamic/fava-identified in see Ni Made and their 34For a glossary of the mudras specific meanings Condong choreography,

(1979), Kapila Vatsyayan (1974), and Leela Venkataraman (2002).


of South Asian





such narrative


see Kothari


the Camera,

and Dance


Figure 1. Dancer Maria Talamantes performing hand movements from theCondong Legong dance.


in this respect, those of London and New York. They differ markedly, from the majority of insular Southeast Asian and, Melanesian chor significantly, as well.35 Mead traditions and Bateson, prone to seek comparisons eographic to be struck between Balinese and New Guinea practices, were primed forcefully the relatively elaborate of rules that governed Balinese system by bodily

,35The court




Java and


are an




SallyAnn Ness

in relation to performance, and governed itprimarily seemingly arbitrary notions of style or "permissible" behavior. In this regard, the choreographic practices of Balinese performance present a movement constituted by a coherent, systematic, convention-rich style of body

Its is relatively large array of explicitly recognized design principles. technique based on general assumptions about bodily coordination, dynamic phrasing, across a wide field of and spatial orientation that have numerous per applications formance genres and events. Such for example, inform the way a per principles, so as to of flexing and joints hyperextending create the curvilinear forms considered beautiful throughout the whole spectrum former learns the valued manners

manner events. inwhich a performance They inform the performer learns towork with gravity so as to convey the grounded yet elegantly undulating sense of dadi, or "allowedness" in that governs locomotion virtually every instance of inform the performers manner choreographic performance. They of investing energy various meridians with through proprioceptive extremely sudden variations to produce the fluctuations of gesture that are, vibratory the most distinctive perhaps, dynamic feature of the Balinese choreographic numerous tenets of and interrelated, might style. These technique, complexly in the manner Bateson be considered "generalizables" suggested for the particu of Balinese to informed par fixed, textual tradition, they are nonetheless easily recognizable or absence can be as establish ticipants. Their presence immediately registered a to are embodied ing the degree of expertise accorded given performer. They on which Bateson and Mead focused through repetitive training?practices

larprinciple he identified. While theyhave not been codified verbally in any

intensively. They inscribe in those who master them a common sense of applica to bility performance, broadly experienced. a It was, in this and regard, relatively small and obvious step for Bateson to Mead that one such such a classical hypothesize design principle, exhibiting as it did, of articulateness degree might have the capability for application

of demonstrably difficult, if not number have been able

the into beyond specific domain of choreographic practice non-corporeally not been in a oriented domains of cultural life. Had where perform they place ance were so rich in conventional technical practices intelligence (and had they not been led to focus on it an identification their expatriate by community), such more performative principles might have been far in this respect, was one of a small impossible. Bali, relatively in insular Southeast Asia where Bateson of places and Mead might applicable to reach their theoretical

highpoint. and, perhaps, most critical with regard to Balis instrumental value, Balinese ritual is among the most in the world with complex dance traditions to the isolation and active use of or regard bodily segmentations "body parts." The importance of this distinctive feature cannot be overstated. The Bali design Third, nese can mobilize in simultaneous and coordinate isolation more style in a than twenty different segmentations of the dancer's body single, momentary classical

Bali, theCamera, and Dance

action It requires at least five degrees of isolation


acting members. This elaborately differentiated style of bodily organization pro a "multisited/vocal" duces the person of the patterning of activity within from every segment that initiates movement performer. Each independently a locus of or in its animation the other becomes expression "place" that defines

alone, dividingtheupper limbsintoa smallarmyof (ideally harmoniously)inter



in each arm

in thisway contains body of the performer. The Balinese style principles of tech a nique that foreground the coordination of corporeal universe of different places or "voice" of movement, all of which can be granted agency simultaneously. In this Balinese dance requires a regard, relatively high degree of relationship over the between the managing performer's bodily "landscape." Belationships


of the head, and feet must be synchronized in order for places weight center, the performer to be able to walk, remain standing, and level. Belation change between the eyes, jaw, thumb and fingers, ships palms, elbows, and shoulders

"bending that (ankle area)," while "spreading this (finger areas)," while "tilting that (head area)," while this (chest area)," and so on. This dance of "holding an intensification of sent into different enables energies "whiling" simultaneously areas of the a continuous reassessment of the exer and necessitates performer tions themselves relative to one another.36 In sum, each of the to life in the relationships brought organization of the movement in traditional Balinese must be maintained performer's performance in to every other in order for the entire constellation to move in the relationship Bateson characterized as "balanced." Moreover, attention require special the changing contingencies entirely known, given context. The entire process of maintenance relationship nese instills cannot become training process completely never pants' where conscious awareness, un-self-conscious ance, the relationships that will in any given perform are and modification

"liftingthis (shoulder area) up," while "flexing that (knee area)," while

be continuously monitored and adjusted in order to perform gestures in the "permissible" manner. Balinese dancing, in this respect, can be experienced as the sys this ismore likely to be a novice's or observer's experience) (although temic hierarchic management It entails of relationships. "pushing this (arm while "pressing that (wrist area) down," while at the same time segment) up,"


of every performance that the classical Bali unavailable increases to partici to the point

to a very great extent.

habits of action might govern a performer's movement

even as the level of mastery

36Thedescriptionhere is takenfroman account ofpersonal experience documented inNess (1996,

135). It is not intended to represent the consciousness it ismeant However, ticularly expert performers. in traditional Balinese observable performance observe. of experience performers generally, par an is organizing strategy that depict generally and that Mead and Bateson would have been able to to or


SallyAnn Ness




Figure 2. Maria Talamantes demonstrating a typical pose from Panyambrama dance that employs the isolated use of multiple body "parts."




to come to an awareness of relational displays, enabled Bateson in symbolism inhering performance practices initially, and eventually in physical more practices generally. The Balinese classical style foregrounds and amplifies agents that it

"relationship-ing" body parts argument. The spectacular plurality of initiations/actions distinctive of Balinese on coordination classical dance, and the extreme of emphasis bodily places/

of always experimental technique iswhat Bateson identified as "motion" in his 1949

Bali, theCamera, andDance


this type of relational symbolism, and does so without the masking effect that an elaborate tradition of iconic signification might have produced. The combined presence of these distinctive features of Balinese traditional performance, were enabled the multisited, made Bah, made

and on

the manner

studyof human bodily performance.Only in Bali would theyhave witnessed

that arbitrarily articulate, technically codified performances their observational efforts bear such extraordinary fruit. The place of but actually encountered, the cultural reality that was not preconceived a critical difference, in this in their collaborative analytic regard, research

site to pursue,

and Bateson of investigating them that Mead an instrumental made Bali place for their

Conclusion the theoretical Despite Mead and Bateson achieved, of the "new level" of understanding significance the impact of their insight into choreographic sym in bolism has been and remains virtually nonexistent?in perform anthropology, ance studies, or in Asian studies. Scholars of history and theory anthropological collaboration have viewed its interpretive, analytical assessing the Mead/Bateson dimensions as having made only a marginal contribution to any area of cultural Anna Grimshaw (2001, 88), for example, who has eval anthropological thought. uated what may be viewed as the collaboration's most consequential dimension, notes that, even in this its contribution to visual regard, the "poten anthropology, was never to the realized. With regard tial" of the work study of perform fully studies that Mead ance, recognition has yet to be gained within performance and Bateson that field. could In Mead's

in any sense be considered forerunners of recent trends in own estimation, the in Bali theory and method introduced nese Character constituted "a challenge that no one took up" (1972, 235). The in the turmoil ofWorld War II entire project appears to have been largely lost 2003, 72). By the time a postwar focus was resumed on ethno (Bowman-Kruhm the culture and personality graphic work by the anthropological mainstream, was deemed orientation Mead and Bateson had invalid.38 All other inter adopted or dimensions of the research were evidently deemed unten pretive analytical able by association as well.

SoutheastAsianists, for theirpart (Boon 1977; Jensen and Suryani 1992; Sullivan 2004) have repeatedly noted thatMead and Batesons findingson

37RichardSchechner, one of the foundingfiguresof performance studies, in facthas expressed in of 2003) strongcriticismof Bateson public comments (University California, Santa Cruz, January
and Mead's research on Bali,


Balinese Character was received with 38SeeHoward (1984, 206). Lipset (1982,177) also notes that
great interest in American anthropology.

ing completely

any insight

their orientation characterizing into Balinese performance.

as ethnocentric

to the


of negat

Balinese based

SallyAnn Ness
culture appear to have spoken farmore to the British- and American theoretical frameworks they brought with them than to the actualities of cultural The relatively short period of reality they encountered. in Bali before and Bateson worked announcing their "find

the Balinese

time inwhich Mead

ings" and their relatively limited knowledge of Balinese history, religion, and lit to the conclusion erature all that they came to Bali with a point prefabricated theoretical agenda that ruled too strongly over their investigative process. The collaboration, from areally sensitive per only lasting legacy of the Mead/Bateson to have been its innovation. In that spectives, is argued methodological regard, is extensive use of film and only the photography typically recognized.39 while the legacy of the Mead/Bateson collaboration for the study of per Yet, itnonetheless retains a tanta formance remains almost completely unactualized,

of and study of choreographic symbolism, the forms symbolic analysis Mead not lost their to contrib Bateson's work inadvertently prefigured have potential ute to contemporary research. The pathbreaking potential of the significantly rather than with the passing of time, has, in fact, approach, diminishing gained in of current trends in the study of human strength light performance. These have more than ever the importance of relationships per emphasize formance practices maintain with the places they come to define, particularly their political and economic type of generalizable aspects. The intelligence come to and Bateson recognized and which as inherent in the technical principles of Balinese in local net observed operating they

as which it isgrounded. With regardto the lizing vitality, does theplace ofBali in



performance, choreographic to merit continues through analogous networks

to contemporary life, and the interplay given applications may now be seen to develop with other symbolic forms and processes migrating through the shifting in the present constitute ethnoscapes (Appadurai 1991) that increasingly places time, remains a valid topic of investigation. Place still matters, even in an era and region that is defined increasingly by mobility. It might well be argued than ever, and any understanding of place will necessarily as Bateson observed entail the close observation of such "corporeal metaphors" and the wisdom they embody. place-specific studies developing this type of performance symbolic to turn to have themselves yet practices and traditions performance analysis one to date to in Asia. Mead remains the and Bateson's based only study tradition in this general theoreti address the symbolism of an Asian performance cal light. The explanatory power the approach might hold, in this regard, for the Moreover, scholars in that place matters more

cement.The applicability thekind of symbolism of Mead and Bateson identified

as it can now be seen to circulate exploration, at national, transnational, and global sites of empla

39Sullivan graphic quence



materials, theoretically.

of an exception. However, something and he rejects the idea that Mead's

Sullivan's note


is focused

on the

taking produced


photo of conse

Bali, theCamera, and Dance


traditions and the places they comparative analysis of other Asian performance have defined throughout the region is considerable. One wonders, for example, what kind of technical be inherent in the numerous other "templates" might as "classical," what Asian that also have been genres performance categorized senses of place they have cultivated, and what histories of application they may have had. Bali may not have been unique with regard to the cultural breadth of of its performative intelligence. One wonders as well if the classi applicability cal traditions of Asia share any generalizable intelligence among themselves, and, if so, how itmight be observed research awaits pursuit with to circulate.

to be articulated. of contemporary place?remain These lines of inquiry lead in directions that seemingly would be of central inter est not to studies scholars, but also to scholars of contemporary only performance was in Asian culture and society more The of Bali, amenable as it generally. place in the such an approach, might again serve as an illustrative model pioneering of such contemporary research questions. pursuit tributions to various that enabled

Asia throughout practiced kinds of rule-governance operative in these genres, the generalizable intelligence and their capacities for nonaffective extension?in sum, their con they embody, senses

In addition, a vast area of potentially to the innumerable traditions regard performance that fall outside the bounds of "the classical." The

It is in these regardsthat Mead and Batesons lostlegacyand theplace ofBali

it continues to hold and performance anthropological studies. The potential of the Balinese into new dimensions of interpretive work on Asian inAsian its value, for

studies research as well as forwork collaboration

to lead the way as the human remains alive. As capacities for place long choreographic symbolism remain active, thiswould seem to be the case for making and intelligence testing some time to come.

Acknowledgments This research was made possible in part by a grant from the John Simon Guggen heim Foundation. Grateful acknowledgment is also due to Henk Maier and Ken on earlier versions of this manuscript. George for their comments and suggestions I am also indebted to Won-Sun Choi, Danielle Robinson, JustineLemos, and Maria Tala mantes for having generously shared with me their research expertise on various topics discussed in the essay.

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