Places for Happiness explores two of the most important performance-based activities in the Philippines: the processions and Passion Plays associated with Easter and the mass-dance phenomenon known as "street dancing." The scale of these hand-crafted performances in terms of duration, time commitment, and productive labor marks the Philippines as one of the world's most significant and undervalued performance-centered cultures. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork, William Peterson examines how people come together in the streets or on temporary stages, celebrating a shared sense of community and creating places for happiness.
The first half of the book focuses on localized and often highly idiosyncratic versions of the Passion of Christ. Peterson considers not only what people do in these events, but what it feels like to participate. The second half provides a window into the many expressions of "street dancing." Street dancing is inflected by localized indigenous and folk dance traditions that are reinforced at school and practiced in conjunction with religious civic festivals. Peterson identifies key frames that shape and contain the individual in the Philippines, while tracking how the local expands its expressive home by engaging in a dialogue with regional, national, and diasporic Filipino imaginaries.
"Places for Happiness applies performance study methodologies to contemporary Filipino theatre and dance, filling in the sociopolitical contexts. This is much needed reading for comprehending the portrait of the Filipino as artist in a contemporary context and shows the Filipino use of the arts as a space to create and display cultural identity and communitas in ways that may simultaneously be local, national, and diasporic." —Kathy Foley, professor of theatre arts, University of California, Santa Cruz, and editor of Asian Theatre Journal
"In 'emplacing' community-based ritual performances in the basic need for happiness and edification, Peterson reminds us of ethnography's capacity to facilitate a more organic understanding of the human condition. This is a crucial contribution to scholarship on Christian ritual practices in the non-West, and a particularly timely one given Christendom's burgeoning demographic shift to the Global South." —Julius Bautista, Kyoto University