Tango & Anthropology

I am drooling over Carolyn Merritt’s dance anthropology dissertation, Locating the Tango: Place and the Social Dance Community. Long ago and far away (about 5 years and 2,000 miles) I thought about getting my PhD in dance anthropology. I ended up making other choices, and I am glad of what came of them, although I do ponder the what-if‘s from time to time.

I have thought long and hard about returning to grad school for dance anthropology. I have one professor in particular who still encourages me to come back to grad school, and he even likes my interest in dance. (It helps that his wife is a professional dancer!) I have thought about it, but now I think Carolyn has done the work for me! No need to go back if someone has already explored my area of curiosity. I have only read the introduction, but already I’m thrilled:

Focusing specifically on how globally evolving tango vocabularies – of movement, dress, music, etiquette and language – impact the local scene and control of the rights to tango, I will explore the extent to which global and local circuits of tango exist at once in a state of tension and mutual dependency. Building on an emerging reconceptualization of culture vis-à-vis space and place, grounded in the notions of deterritorialization and reterritorialization of culture (Appadurai 1996; Bhabha 1994; Gupta and Ferguson 1992; Kearney 1995; Miller 1995), I will trace tango nuevo in the circulation and intersection of global flows and local practices, where dancers both call upon and resist notions of place in an effort to refashion the tango and solidify its presence in a cosmopolitan world. Rejecting notions of culture confined by geographic bounds, I found a fruitful conceptual model in the “community of practice,” thus “locating” the tango in fabricated, permeable spaces that are at once local and global, imagined and situated. Linking research in dance to the literature of language socialization and semiotics, I situate community in the performance of shared vocabularies/ competencies (at the level of movement, dress, etiquette, music and language), which alternately speak to, comment upon or transcend an underlying connection to place.

I love it. I can’t wait to read more! How many people get to hear that about their dissertation? 🙂


3 thoughts on “Tango & Anthropology

  1. Hi, I was just wondering if her work is available online for those interested in reading it. Thanks! BTW, I really like your blog. 🙂

  2. Keiko, if you follow the link in the post, it has the full dissertation online. It’s pretty cool!

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