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Dance, Racism and Anthropological Knowledge

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

Kunda is a dance project based in Bern, led by Senegalese and Swiss dancers, musicians and activists. Meaning “house” in Mandinka, Kunda uses dance to address discrimination and racism in choreography and daily life. In our dance performances, we attempt to prevent stereotypes, and, amongst other challenges, the reduction of ‘African dances' to their exoticism and ‘traditional past’. We also propose conversations to engage with the audience after the show. In doing so, we try not to reproduce the violence of exhibition as it was the case in the history of performance: through irony and caricature (black minstrel shows), exoticism and eroticism (Josephine Baker).

Supported by the program “Neues Wir” launched by the Swiss government (Eidgenössische Kommission für Migration), we were very happy to explore our workshop methodology at the Interface Summer School in Ascona. The rich exchange with students in anthropology about questions of categorization made us realize the discrepancy between operations of deconstruction — relevant on a theoretical level — and the need of activists for operative categories useful in their field practice. How to talk about differences (“blackness/whiteness”) with teenagers and children without reifying categories?

As an anthropologist, project leader, dancer and activist, it is a continuing challenge for me to find the appropriate voice when negotiating with my collaborators and interlocutors who are tackling racism and discrimination through their works.

More about Kunda

Highlights of Ascona workshop

André Dramé & Claire Vionnet, project leaders

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