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Title: Moving beyond boundaries : an exploration into the relationship between politics and dance
Author: Mills, Dana N.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis looks into the relationship between dance and politics. It argues that dance is both a method of intervening in other symbolic languages and a system of inscription that is intertwined in that moment of intervention. Dance as a political language has a subversive potential; it can challenge verbal political statements. In the thesis I work with and against Jacques Rancière’s interpretation of politics as re-distribution of the sensible and with Aletta Norval’s reading of Rancière’s conception of democracy as egalitarian inscription which I expand and read as egalitarian embodied inscription. I show that Rancière’s focus on politics as rupture disables the recognition inscription as continuity. I show that dance enables a reading of politics as both rupture and continuity, an intervention that leaves traces that endure after it ends. Through a genealogy of the concept of the Dionysian I show that philosophers and dance practitioners alike have read dance as both subversive and affirmative, an intervention and a system of inscription that acts independently of spoken discourse. I show that Isadora Duncan created the first political moment in modern dance as a re-distribution of the sensible; at the same time although she created egalitarian embodied inscription she did not leave a codified system of movement, and did not contradict her politics in spoken language. I show that Martha Graham created the second moment of re-distribution of the sensible in which she created a codified movement language that subverted politics in spoken words. Finally, I revisit Rancière’s work and bind his discussion of human rights with the problematic of the tension between rupture and continuity. I re-read both these arguments with my interpretation of dance as political and argue that it yields a reading of dance as enabling the creation of human rights claims. Dance is both subversive and affirmative.
Supervisor: Freeden, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Dramatic arts ; dance; politics; political theory