Digital Technologies and the Expansion of the Festival Audience: Politics and Power in La Fiesta de Santo Tomás

TitleDigital Technologies and the Expansion of the Festival Audience: Politics and Power in La Fiesta de Santo Tomás
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Quan-Haase, A., and K. Martin
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Western Ontario, Canada
Section or WGAudience Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeAUDW3a
Slot Code (Keyword)AUDW3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleAudience Activities in the Age of Mediated Urbanism
Submission ID6669

[Panel Title: Audience Activities in the Age of Mediated Urbanism]
Paper 2 The proliferation of portable, networked and location-aware devices has drastically changed how the city is encoded and decoded in general and during specific events in particular by enabling new practices of digital curation and networked audiencing. These extend the urban realm from the physical into the virtual, which provides a space for global and dispersed, often naïve audience activities. We employ the case study of the Fiesta de Santo Tomás, which is an annual festival that takes place during the week leading up to Christmas in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, to illustrate how digital curation, (re)-presentation and (re)-interpretation of festive events occur in a hybrid urban space. The political power struggles that take place day to day in Chichicastenango are recontextualized on the web, and can often be misconstrued by the larger networked audience. By documenting the ways that the modern day version of this festival has made its way into the larger digitally mediated sphere of urbanism, we look at three groups of curators (the troutist organizations, the tourists themselves, and the Mayan population) and how their ways of encoding the event provide an ever expanding number of representations to be decoded by the members of the ephemeral online audience. We draw three main conclusions: 1) That the material represented in the digital curation of the Fiesta plays a large role in encoding the online version of the event; 2) the online audience for the Fiesta receives a limited, and perhaps skewed, version of the event; and 3) the Ladino population is not present in the curated version of the festival: the tourists prefer instead to ‘other’ the Mayan culture and the differences experienced during La Fiesta de Santo Tomas.

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