Introduction by the Guest Editors of This IssueAnn R. David, Stacey Prickett
This special edition of the Istanbul University Journal of Women’s Studies (İstanbul Üniversitesi Kadın Araştırmaları Dergisi) focusses on women, dance and music from a wide range of geographical locations (Austria, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA) and through a selection of theoretical/practical lens that include ethnography, historiography, dance analysis, practice-as-research, dance activism, and intersectionality. It transverses the fields of transnational feminism, examining how new mediums of dance, movement and music might lead to fresh understandings of women’s activism and facilitate resistance to socio-cultural normative gendered patterns. We are thrilled to work with the ten international authors in articles that present innovative research and suggest new ways of looking and understanding these significant and pressing issues. Their work foregrounds questions that seek to unpick the inequalities and disjunctures endured by women both historically and in the present time in performance, in choreography, in social and community dance and in song.
The publication follows on from extensive academic work in this field, beginning in the 1980s when both scholars and practitioners brought the existing multiple feminist critiques into dance performance spaces and into published writing on dance/body (see selected examples from Albright 1997, Allegranti 2011, Brown 2006, Daly 1991, Desmond 1999, Purkayastha 2014, Salami 2020 and Thomas 1993). As Jane C. Desmond noted, “Gender systems are always political in the most fundamental sense of articulating a division of power. They operate in complex and often contradictory ways and intersect with other categories of social differentiation such as race, class, ethnicity, age, national origin, and so on” (1999:309). Such issues of power, politics and protest relating to women’s performance are addressed in this special journal edition where the articles continue the extensive research focussed on the use of dance as a protest against such controlling systems (see for example Chatterjea 2004; Prickett 2013, 2016, and Mills 2017, 2021) and the work published on dance ethnography, embodied practice and politics (see Buckland 1999, 2006, David 2013, 2015, 2021, and Grau 2011, 2016).
The authors draw from diverse disciplinary foundations in topics that interrogate historical and contemporary dance practices. In centring women’s experience and representation within the lens, they also bring to the fore hidden histories, in some PREFACE cases offering empowerment on individual and community levels. Political structures and social dynamics are revealed, alongside detailed movement analysis which illuminates the power of the body. Intersectional relationships emerge, highlighting class, economics, race and social justice themes embedded in creative practices and show how dominant social constructs can be resisted. Similar concerns emerge across dance styles and geographical regions, as authors engage with seminal writings as well as scholarship at the cutting edge of the field.