Choreographic Crises: Race, Religion, and Colonization in Medieval and Early Modern Dance

AHA Session 9
Medieval Academy of America 1
Thursday, January 6, 2022: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Balcony N (New Orleans Marriott, 4th Floor)
Sara M. Ritchey, University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Session Abstract

Modern crises involving racism and colonization existed in premodern Europe and European accounts of the Americas. Warfare, anti-Semitism, and colonization unleashed racial violence and epistemological catastrophes. The first paper explores the blackness of medieval dance in Western medieval ecclesiastical sources, crusader chronicles, court performance, and cultic worship. The second paper reveals how anti-Semitism in medieval and early modern Germany impacted Jewish dance practice. The third paper turns to early modernity and the Americas, during which European natural histories constructed categories of Indigenous dance and highlighted competing epistemologies. The fourth and final paper illustrates how discourse on medieval English dance informed colonial endeavors in nineteenth-century Jamaica. Together, these papers demonstrate how dance provides an exceptional lens through which to observe white supremacy, Christian hegemony, and Western ontologies that resonate in a twenty first-century context.
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