Tango and the Political Economy of Passion

Tango and the Political Economy of Passion

Tango and the Political Economy of Passion

Tango and the Political Economy of Passion

Synopsis

What is tango? Dance, music, and lyrics of course, but also a philosophy, a strategy, a commodity, even a disease. This book explores the politics of tango, tracing tango's travels from the brothels of Buenos Aires to the cabarets of Paris and the shako dansu clubs of Tokyo. The author is an Argentinean political theorist and a dance professor at the University of California at Riverside. She uses her "tango tongue" to tell interwoven tales of sexuality, gender, race, class, and national identity. Along the way she unravels relations between machismo and colonialism, postmodernism and patriarchy, exoticism and commodification. In the end she arrives at a discourse on decolonization as intellectual "unlearning."Marta Savigliano's voice is highly personal and political. Her account is at once about the exoticization of tango and about her own fate as a Third World woman intellectual. A few sentences from the preface are indicative: "Tango is my womb and my tongue, a trench where I can shelter and resist the colonial invitations to universalism,'… a stubborn fatalist mood when technocrats and theorists offer optimistic and seriously revised versions of alternatives' for the Third World, an opportunistic metaphor to talk about myself and my stories as a success' of the civilization-development-colonization of America Latina, and a strategy to figure out through the history of the tango a hooked-up story of people like myself. Tango is my changing, resourceful source of identity. And because I am where I am- outside- tango hurts and comforts me: Tango is a sad thought that can be danced.'"Savigliano employs the tools of ethnography, history, body-movement analysis, and political economy. Well illustrated with drawings and photos dating back to the 1880s, this book is highly readable, entertaining, and provocative. It is sure to be recognized as an important contribution in the fields of cultural studies, performance studies, decolonization, and women-of-color feminism.

Excerpt

I took some bad advice. I think I should blame my foot for it; for putting myself in this. (It is always the same big toe crawling imperceptibly into these holes without edges.) Anyway, now I'm stuck. Open the tango-box: "There is a story I want to tell but, every other instant, I'm overgrown by muteness. Because of sadness, because of love, because of powerlessness or absurd omnipotence, because of rage or solitude, because of so much pain, because of life itself and the death of others or even because of that in-between, when boredom tempts me like dryness in the mouth to stand in silence. Every other instant one feels like dying." Close the tango-box. I'll try to tell my story, scattered in pieces. Each piece is a tale with sketchy morals of its own. But there are some points in common, rather, some dots or, better said, some rebellious stains. Alright. Imprecise points of repetition. and every other instant the silence, overgrowing. Wind up the tango-box: "My foot, the wise one, this time said: 'Could you please try to decolonize yourself?'" the tango-box winds down. I wonder, why would you follow me through these pages? I know you did not expect me to address you like this. What kind of introduction is this? I can already sense some restlessness. I lower my voice and answer slowly: i'm ... trying ... to ... decolonize ... myself. I am tempted to apologize, to erase the whole thing and start all over again. Sorry for putting you in the spot, in my point, in the dot, in these stains.

An introduction should go like this:

The purpose of this study is to contribute to the historical account of capitalism by adding a new dimension to the currently well-known Marxist and neo-Marxist depictions of its development. Through these pages I will entertain the thought qua hypothesis that a political economy of Passion has been occurring and that this economy has been juxtaposed and intertwined with the economies usually described on materialist and ideological grounds. a trackable trafficking in emotions and affects has paralleled the processes by which the core countries of the capitalist world system have extracted material goods and labor from, and . . .

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