The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity


The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity



Dance intersects with ethnicity in a powerful variety of ways and at a broad set of venues. Dance practices and attitudes about ethnicity have sometimes been the source of outright discord, as when African Americans were - and sometimes still are - told that their bodies are 'not right' for ballet, when Anglo Americans painted their faces black to perform in minstrel shows, when 19th century Christian missionaries banned the performance of particular native dance traditions throughout much of Polynesia, and when the Spanish conquistadors and church officials banned sacred Aztec dance rituals. More recently, dance performances became a locus of ethnic disunity in the former Yugoslavia as the Serbs of Bosnia attended dance concerts but only applauded for the Serbian dances, presaging the violent disintegration of that failed state.

The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity brings together scholars from across the globe in an investigation of what it means to define oneself in an ethnic category and how this category is performed and represented by dance as an ethnicity. Newly-commissioned for the volume, the chapters of the book place a reflective lens on dance and its context to examine the role of dance as performed embodiment of the historical moments and associated lived identities. In bringing modern dance and ballet into the conversation alongside forms more often considered ethnic, the chapters ask the reader to contemplate previous categories of folk, ethnic, classical, and modern. From this standpoint, the book considers how dance maintains, challenges, resists or in some cases evolves new forms of identity based on prior categories. Ultimately, the goal of the book is to acknowledge the depth of research that has been undertaken and to promote continued research and conceptualization of dance and its role in the creation of ethnicity.

Dance and ethnicity is an increasingly active area of scholarly inquiry in dance studies and ethnomusicology alike and the need is great for serious scholarship to shape the contours of these debates. The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity provides an authoritative and up-to-date survey of original research from leading experts which will set the tone for future scholarly conversation.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press


New York, NY


dance, ethnicity, race, identity


Dance | Performance Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies