Dancing Fear and Desire: Race, Sexuality, and Imperial Politics in Middle Eastern Dance

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Jan 1, 2006 - Performing Arts - 264 pages

Throughout centuries of European colonial domination, the bodies of Middle Eastern dancers, male and female, move sumptuously and seductively across the pages of Western travel journals, evoking desire and derision, admiration and disdain, allure and revulsion. This profound ambivalence forms the axis of an investigation into Middle Eastern dance—an investigation that extends to contemporary belly dance.

Stavros Stavrou Karayanni, through historical investigation, theoretical analysis, and personal reflection, explores how Middle Eastern dance actively engages race, sex, and national identity. Close readings of colonial travel narratives, an examination of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, and analyses of treatises about Greek dance, reveal the intricate ways in which this controversial dance has been shaped by Eurocentric models that define and control identity performance.


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A precious testimonial from a rare academic point of view of situation around ME regarding sexuality and art. Well written, inspiring and giving rise to self questioning of how things are co-dependent under global games of power. Nevertheless it points out a fact that how the time passes and the trends change and even the condition change the restrictions written or not, official or unofficial more or less remain the same. 


1 Introducing Colonial and Postcolonial Dialectics on the Subject of Dance
Kuchuk Hanem and Imperial Masculinity
Male Performers of the Orient and the Politics of the Imperial Gaze
Semiotics of Dance and the Phantasm of Salomé
Hellenism and the Worlding of Greek Dance
6 What Dancer from Which Dance? Concluding Reflections
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About the author (2006)

Stavros Stavrou Karayanni’s publications include critical and creative work on culture, politics, gender, and sexuality in the Middle East. He has presented and performed at international conferences and cultural festivals. He has taught at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia and the University of Calgary in Alberta. Currently he is an assistant professor of English literature at Cyprus College in Nicosia, Cyprus.

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