Sport, Dance, and Embodied Identities

Sport, Dance, and Embodied Identities

Sport, Dance, and Embodied Identities

Sport, Dance, and Embodied Identities

Synopsis

Sport and dance command the passions and devotion of countless athletes, dancers and fans worldwide. Although conventionally thought to reside within separate social realms, these two embodied cultural forms are revealed in this benchmark volume to share a vital capacity to constitute and express identities through their practiced movements and scripted forms. Thus, the work of choreographers and coaches along with the performances of dancers and athletes offer not merely entertainment and aesthetic accomplishment but also powerful means for celebrating existing social arrangements and cultural ideals or, alternately, for imagining and advocating new ones.Drawing on a wide selection of sport and dance activities from around the world, this book elucidates the ways in which embodied performances both mirror and reshape social life. It traces, for example, how football, salsa and tango can each be employed to articulate or rewrite national and gender identities. Also examined are children's sport and the dynamics by which immigration and cultural integration, along with the socialization of children and youth, may be directed through the organization of community sport. The volume investigates the marshalling of sport and dance in settings from Africa to Ireland as vehicles for framing moral issues that revolve around the appropriate use, protection and exhibition of the body. This innovative study establishes the paradoxical fashion in which dance and sport can unite certain people and communities while at the same time serving exclusionary and nationalistic purposes.

Excerpt

In a football match staged in a Salvadorean village a team representing the ladino elite meets one consisting mainly of the sons of indigenous men killed by ladino paramilitary patrols during the civil war of the 1980s. On the dance-floors of Hamburg nightclubs German aficionados of salsa negotiate the delicate issue of women being obliged to follow the lead of their male partners in an age of otherwise relentless gender equality. When selecting playing partners the boys and girls of an inner-city Copenhagen recreational badminton programme mandated by social policies of inclusion move across the gym towards friends while cutting a swath of non-attention through children from other schools and social classes. What these and other ethnographic scenarios examined in this book serve to highlight are the diverse and complex ways in which sport and dance are implicated in the production and expression of embodied identities. These identities inevitably reflect not only stylized forms of movement and purpose, but also the contexts within which they are nurtured.

Bringing together sport and dance as ethnographically distinctive but analytically commensurable forms of body culture and social practice represents a departure from previous ways of thinking about these two fields within anthropology and other disciplines. Sport and dance are conventionally viewed in the West as residing within separate and even opposed cultural realms. Yet they share not only a common status as techniques of the body (Mauss 1973), but also a vital capacity to express and reformulate identities and meanings through their practised movements and scripted forms. Sport and dance spark widespread participation, critical appreciation and endless interpretation by performers and their audiences. Indeed, the embodied practices of athletes and dancers afford not merely pleasure and entertainment but powerful means for celebrating existing social arrangements and cultural ideals or for imagining and advocating new ones.

The eleven chapters that follow explore a variety of sport and dance forms, activities and relationships in locales that reach from Europe to Africa and North . . .

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