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Title: Sociality of dance : Eskimo dance among Yupiget on St. Lawrence Island and Iñupiat in Barrow, Alaska
Author: Ikuta, Hiroko
ISNI:       0000 0004 2690 4833
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis explores Eskimo dance and the social relationships surrounding the dance activities among Yupiget on St. Lawrence Island and Iñupiat in Barrow, Alaska. Based on one year of fieldwork, I set out to understand how Eskimo dance is at the centre of social relationships with the environment, among people, between humans and animals, and between Eskimo and the Euro-American societies. I also examine how the nature and structure of Eskimo dance are connected to cultural politics, wrought by political, economic and historical events. St. Lawrence Island and Barrow are both well known as ‘dance’ communities among Alaskan Eskimos, where the residents did not give up on dancing despite various pressures throughout history, and legendary composers and performers keep attracting a number of Eskimo audiences. Both communities have long been enjoying Eskimo dances, which combine the cultural aesthetics with abstract and embodied knowledge of their Arctic environment in a harmony of movements and sounds. In the contemporary context, Eskimo dance performances have also become a way of presenting ethnic identity, interpreting tradition, and representing culture in political discourse, particularly in the speech community where people do not speak their heritage language in daily life. Yupik and Iñupiaq communities, which vary in language maintenance, post-colonial history, and economic development, have different attitudes toward their own traditions and cultures. This is reflected in the fact that the presentations and meanings of contemporary Eskimo dance are developing differently between St. Lawrence Island and Barrow. I argue that Eskimo dance shows conservatism in artistic form incorporating creativities and improvisation among performers. It also presents continuity of the emotional and social power that dance performances have.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Eskimo dance ; Dance