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Dancing the Nation: The Politics of Exile, Mobility and Displacement along the Thai-Burma Border

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Item Summary

Title:Dancing the Nation: The Politics of Exile, Mobility and Displacement along the Thai-Burma Border
Authors:Sebro, Tani
Date Issued:May 2016
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
Abstract:Dance, song and movement aesthetics are often overlooked in studies of war and diaspora. Yet synchronized rhythmic movement promotes group coherence within all cultures, religions and nations, and holds potential for expressing political resistance. Based upon long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Thailand amongst a displaced group of Burmese refugees called the Tai, this dissertation attends to how dance, song and theatre reinvigorate displaced minority groups’ aspirations for sovereignty outside the current global nation-state paradigm. For Burmese exiles, expressive forms of ethnic nationalism are reproduced upon the bodies of cultural practitioners through the work of dance training and through shared rhythmic and aesthetic structures of sentiment towards ‘the nation’ – which produce powerful political affects and effects. The author argues that nations are not maintained primarily through capital and reading publics, but rather through the complex transmission of what can be called “aesthetic nationalisms,” which involve embodied performances and cultural practices that constitute the body-politic. This trans-disciplinary research project summons Postcolonial Studies, Affect Theory and Critical Political Theory to elucidate the contestability of the production and maintenance of states, democracies and diasporas. The dissertation offers a corrective to disembodied research modalities in international relations that have become commonplace, and instead advances a trans-disciplinary and embodied approach to the study of exile.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Political Science

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