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Accepted Paper:

Creating National Belongings through Contemporary Dance: 1948 Palestinian Dancers in Ramallah and Beyond  
Ana Laura Rodriguez Quinones (UNIL)

Paper short abstract:

1948 Palestinians' experiences of contemporary dance can be times when they reaffirm their national belonging. In a context in which they are excluded from the nation, specific dance events and practice connect them to their fellow countrymen and shape their body experience itself.

Paper long abstract:

By the emotions it generates and by the imaginations it conveys, dance is a strong social lubricant and participates in constructing national and transnational belongings. Moreover, in situations of displacement, dance practice appears to be a tool of identity (re)affirmation (Gibert 2007) and constitute a link between people through space and time. Even though this link is often build on continuous and long term involvement, some experiences, whether physical, aesthetical, or even social, can act as turning points in individuals' lives. This is the case for some of the Palestinian dancers based in Israel I met during my ongoing PhD research on Palestinian contemporary dance. My contribution focuses the experiences of contemporary dance practice of these 1948' Palestinians, understood as times when they reaffirm their national belonging. In a context in which these actors are administratively and geographically excluded from the nation (Maira & Shihade 2012), diverse dance events - such as creation processes, performances or the singing of the national anthem in a festival opening - appear to be life-changing moments. Building on participant observation in the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival and on interviews lead with Palestinian and European dance actors, I show how these exceptional experiences connect 1948 Palestinians with their fellow countrymen from the West bank and make them participate to a transnational solidarity network for Palestinian struggle. These moments have long-term consequences, as they shape the dancers social and political commitments. They also change the dancers' body experience itself, binding physicality and connection to the land.

Panel P173
Exceptional Experiences: New Horizons in Anthropological Studies of Art, Aesthetics and Everyday Life
  Session 1 Thursday 23 July, 2020, -