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Dancing After Decolonization

Race and Technology in Street and Club Dance Cultures in Black and Muslim Brussels, 1960 - present.

This project tackles the so-called paradox of race in postcolonial Europe through the lens of popular dance and their sound technologies. At the start lies a basic observation in post-colonial Europe. While Belgians, like Europeans generally, insist that the idea of race and colonialism has lost relevance in their polities since the horrors of Holocaust and colonialism, interest in popular cultures celebrating Black and Brown lives grew among primarily native/White and immigrant/Muslim/Black communities. This led to the basic research question:  How have the invisibility of race and postcolonial amnesia co-existed with  hip-hop and house dance cultures since decolonization?

To understand how this social logic emerged historically and reproduces itself to this day, I study the tension between technologies of surveillance and technologies of sociality among communities of color. Drawing upon a decade-long study and writing in urban-environmental studies, as well as dance practice and participation in street and club dance cyphers across three continents, I use archival, media analysis, urban place-making, and (auto-)ethnographic methods and sources. Taking together, the project connects academic and artistic work from the street and club dance worlds, Science, Technology, and Society studies, and postcolonial studies.

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