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Title: Trance as artefact : de-othering transformative states, with reference to examples from contemporary dance in Canada
Author: Cauthery, Bridget E.
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2007
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Reflecting on his fieldwork among the Malagasy speakers of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, Canadian anthropologist Michael Lambek questions why the West has a "blind spot" when it comes to the human activity of trance. Immersed in his subject's trance practices, he questions why such a fundamental aspect of the Malagasy culture, and many other cultures he has studied around the world, is absent from his own. This research addresses the West's preoccupation with trance in ethnographic research and simultaneous disinclination to attribute or situate trance within its own indigenous dance practices. From a Western perspective, the practice and application of research suggests a paradigm that locates trance according to an imperialist West/non-West agenda. If the accumulated knowledge and data about trance is a by-product of the colonialist project, then trance may be perceived as an attribute or characteristic of the Other. As a means of investigating this imbalance, I propose that trance could be reconceived as an attribute or characteristic of the Self, as exemplified by dancers engaged in Western dance practices within traditional anthropology's "own backyard." In doing so, I examine the degree to which trance can be a meaningful construct within the cultural analysis of contemporary dance creation and performance. Through case studies with four dancer/choreographers active in Canada, Margie Gillis, Zab Maboungou, Brian Webb and Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe, this research explores the cultural parameters and framing of transformative states in contemporary dance. l argue that trance functions discursively and is rooted in a cultural and rhetorical context which is collaboratively constructed as both an embodied state or process, and as an artefact. As a discourse, trance problematizes issues of multiculturalism, decolonization, migration, embodiment, authenticity, neoexpressionism and the commodification of trance practice in a postmodern, transnational, economically globalized world. The West's bias exists due to its investment in maintaining philosophical authority over the non-West and its attachment to notions of "high" culture. By expanding the range of possible sites for trance experience and by investing in previously unapplied theories such as flow, the potential exists to situate and to regard trance as other than Other to the West.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available