Review Of "Dancing Indigenous Worlds: Choreographies Of Relation" By J. Shea Murphy

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In this book, her second, Shea Murphy (Univ. of California, Riverside) extends a trajectory she began in her first book, The People Have Never Stopped Dancing: Native American Modern Dance Histories (CH, Jun'08, 45-5492). She deepens discussions regarding Indigenous knowledge grounded in relationality and the ways such understandings permeate current Indigenous dance practices. Sharing examples from some 20 years of research—including conversations with Indigenous dancers and communities in Aoteroa, Australia, and North America—Shea Murphy presents important perspectives. She asserts the importance of the voices of Indigenous dance artists within the larger field of dance studies. Writing as a non-Indigenous scholar, she documents, in dialogue with her Indigenous colleagues, practices that re-center their creative projects in opposition to past colonialist norms. The author draws on and incorporates arguments from other decolonizing writing in dance theory, anthropology, and philosophy. She investigates ways indigenous environments and creations manifest in California, Minnesota, New York, and Ontario, as well as Aoteroa. The widely varied contexts demonstrate the vibrancy of current respectful, relational, Indigenous choreographies. Inclusion of writing by and interviews with Indigenous collaborators further supports the author’s approach. Useful notes and an extensive bibliography ground and augment the text. Helpful photos are included. Valuable for scholars of dance, Indigenous studies, and anthropology. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.


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