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Dance Heterotopias: (un)making race and gender boundaries through social dances in Cape Town

Project description

Moving on Cape Town's racial and gender boundaries

Social and popular dances create spaces where citizens can assert, transform and play with identity and social norms related to race, class and gender. The EU-funded DANCETOPIAS project will study social dances in African globalised cities. Focusing on South Africa, it will explore the history of social dances in Cape Town and provide an ethnography of identity boundaries created through dance. The project aims to map the global dance networks connecting Cape Town to the world. By combining anthropology of globalisation, the approach on identity boundaries and the geography of dance spaces, DANCETOPIAS will focus on certain areas of subversion of racial and gender boundaries that were previously divided by Apartheid.

Objective

DanceTopias proposes to analyse the production and transformation of identity boundaries which occur through social dances in African globalized cities, through an analysis of the case of Cape Town. In this city, as in others, social and popular dances create spaces where citizens can assert, transform, and play with identity categories and social norms related to race, class, and gender. In that sense, they represent what Michel Foucault called “heterotopias”, i.e. spaces that disrupt ordinary time.
Through a qualitative methodology and an interdisciplinary analysis connecting anthropology, history and geography, DanceTopias will analyse the transformation of spaces and identities through social dances, with a focus on race and gender. This project is structured around three main objectives and methodological entries:
1. To trace the history of social dances in Cape Town;
2. To provide an ethnography of identity boundaries created through dance;
3. To map the global dance networks connecting Cape Town to the world.
My research will be conducted through a 21-month outgoing phase at the University of Cape Town, a 3-months secondment at UCL (London), and a 12-month return phase at the University of Geneva.
The combination of the anthropology of globalization, the approach on identity boundaries, and the geography of dance spaces will offer an original perspective on the understanding of African urban societies. DanceTopias will also reveal a rarely discussed aspect of contemporary South Africa: it will focus on certain areas of subversion of racial and gender boundaries, where we observe dialogues between social groups and categories that were previously divided by Apartheid. Beyond South-Africa, this analysis on transgressive dance spaces will provide insightful theoretical assets regarding the redefinition of ideas of gender, race and class occurring in urban space-times through ordinary practices, a main issue for globalized urban societies.

Coordinator

UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE
Net EU contribution
€ 192 097,44
Address
RUE DU GENERAL DUFOUR 24
1211 Geneve
Switzerland

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Region
Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Région lémanique Genève
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 192 097,44

Partners (1)