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Dance, visibility, and representational self-awareness in an Embera community in Panama

Theodossopoulos, Dimitrios (2013) Dance, visibility, and representational self-awareness in an Embera community in Panama. In: Neveu Kringelbach, Hélène and Skinner, Jonathan, eds. Dancing Cultures: Globalization, Tourism and Identity in the Anthropology of Dance. Berghahn Books, Oxford, pp. 121-140. ISBN 978-0-85745-575-8. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:33135)

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The residents of the Emberá community of Parara Puru– women, men and children –dance for consecutive groups of tourists day after day. Due to their full-time involvement with tourism, they have numerous opportunities to perfect their skills as individual performers and to spontaneously improvise or explore the details of dance as an expressive medium. Their daily engagement with Emberá dancing, and the enactment of dances in front of audiences of outsiders, has encouraged local dancers to develop a strong interest in the authenticity and history of their dance, the details of the choreography, and its importance as medium of representation. Overall, the practice of dancing for tourists has emerged as an act of wider signicance for the Emberá, contributing not only to the global visibility of this ethnic group, but also to the knowledge and awareness of local dancers about their own culture. In this chapter I embark upon an exploration of Emberá dance, which has three aims. First, I seek to chart ethnographically the details of this tradition, which had been in decline over the later part of the twentieth century, but has – since the introduction of tourism fifteen years ago – been revitalized. Given that previous ethnographic testimonies on this topic are short and do not provide a thorough description of the particular dances, I attempt here to fill a gap in the anthropological record. Taking inspiration from the developing field of the anthropology of dance, I describe the particular form and practice of Emberá dance as enacted in the context of indigenous tourism, but also the circumstances by which Emberá dance contributes to the wider politics of Emberá cultural representation.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Dance, Indigenous Tourism, Emberá, Panama
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2013 14:29 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 12:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Theodossopoulos, Dimitrios:
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