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"The Esperanto of the body. Entangled mobilities, gender and ethnicity in the transnational salsa circuit"
Responsable du projet Joanna Menet
   
Directeur de la thèse Janine Dahinden
   
Résumé Through the entry point of salsa dancing, this study explores the circulation of people, imaginaries, dance movements, conventions and affects from a transnational perspective. In particular, it examines the negotiations of gender and ethnicity and analyses the transnational careers of salsa dance professionals. It develops a theoretical framework to study “the salsa circuit”, taking into account the embodied doings of salsa dancers as well as “regimes of mobility” and individuals’ different positions in a transnational field.
The research rests on a qualitative, multi-sited study with the hitherto neglected group of salsa dancers, including multiple research phases over a period of three years between 2013 and 2016. The short-term embodied ethnography took place at salsa congresses, in salsa studios and during salsa holidays in cities in Europe and Cuba, as well as online (mainly on Facebook). In total, 36 semi-structured, problem-centred interviews were conducted with female and male salsa dancers.
This thesis draws on an interdisciplinary approach, mobilising theoretical frameworks developed in diverse research fields within the social sciences, such as research on migration and (im)mobility, tourism, ethnicity, gender, affect, as well as dance, music and art. It suggests that the crossing of such diverse fields can help to overcome some of the theoretical and methodological limits of existing research. It argues that a transnational perspective combined with an (im)mobilities approach can fruitfully be integrated into the analysis of dance- or art-related “worlds” to enhance the understanding of the shaping of such transnational social fields, including an awareness of globe-spanning power relations. It also contributes to on-going methodological debates within migration and mobility studies, notably on the “de-ethnicization” of research designs, by selecting salsa dancers by their presence at events rather than a specific “ethnic” or nationally defined category. The thesis develops the notion of “entangled mobilities” to account for the differentiated access to mobility and the importance of social capital and imaginaries in this process.
This study relies on an analysis that ranges from the intimate gendered and ethnicised/racialised moves on the dance floor to the cross-border mobility of salsa dance professionals, and it thereby contributes to a deeper theoretical and empirical understanding of gendered and ethnicised/racialised transnational processes. Notably, it explores from a micro-sociological perspective how salsa dancers renegotiate gendered and ethnicised/racialised practices in embodied ways and demonstrates the different salience of these two categories. It also explores the “affective labour”, networking strategies and accumulation of what is identified as “salsa capital” of salsa dance professionals in the construction of transnational careers in order to go beyond celebratory accounts of salsa as the Esperanto of the body. As this thesis demonstrates, research on spatial mobility and transnational networks through the prism of dance allows for alternative perspectives on social organisation, transnational encounters and global inequalities.
   
Mots-clés Mobility; gender; ethnicity; salsa dance; entangled mobilities; transnational circulation
   
Type de projet Recherche de thèse
Domaine de recherche Social Anthropology
Etat Terminé
Début de projet 1-1-2013
Fin du projet 26-3-2019
Contact Joanna Menet