Between bioscape and sensorium: Creolized dance as Indian Ocean memory

Friday, 16 March, 2018 - 12:30

Oceanic Humanities and WiSER invite you to a lunch time seminar by

Ananya Kabir

Between bioscape and sensorium: Creolized dance as Indian Ocean memory


This talk extends existing perspectives on the Black Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and creolization, by using creolized couple dances as index and evidence. These dances that arose from the encounter between European and African cultures under the sign of creolization are usually associated with the formation of colonial societies and postcolonial nations in the circum-(Black)-Atlantic region. What has not been studied yet is the parallel development of creolized dances in the Western Indian Ocean, particularly the islands with similarly intense inter-imperial histories, plantation economies powered by first slavery and subsequently indentured labour, and layered populations deriving from the movement of different categories of peoples across the high seas. Mobilizing evidence from both the historical archive and performed repertoire, I present a new reading of creolized dance in Mauritius (including Rodrigues Island), La Reunion, and the Seychelles, focusing on ‘sega’, a rhythm manifested in both song and dance that is found in all these islands.


Thursday, 15th March 2018

WiSER Seminar Room,
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University

Ananya Jahanara Kabir is Professor of English Literature at King’s College London.  She is a literary and cultural historian who works on memory, embodiment, and post-trauma in the global South. She has also taught at the Universities of Cambridge, California (Berkeley), and Leeds. She is the recipient of The Infosys Prize for the Humanities (2017), and of fellowships from The Rockefeller Foundation, The British Academy, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). As an AHRC ‘Knowledge Transfer Fellow’, she co-organised in 2011 ‘Between Kismet and Karma’, a programme of UK-wide events and exhibitions involving female visual artists from South Asia working on conflict. She is the author of Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir (2008), and Partition's Post-Amnesias: 1947, 1971 and Modern South Asia (2013). Currently, she directs the European Research Council-funded project Modern Moves, which investigates African-heritage social dance and music in a global context, and which will yield the book, ‘Salsa is Better than Coffee: A Secret History of the Afromodern Dance Floor’. Her next project, ‘Flowers of the Free Seas’, will investigate the transoceanic aesthetic history of African print/ Dutch wax cloth.

All welcome.

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