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Modern dance, domestic life and civil society

Gardner, Sally 2006, Modern dance, domestic life and civil society, Outskirts: feminisms along the edge, vol. 15, pp. 1-19.

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Title Modern dance, domestic life and civil society
Author(s) Gardner, SallyORCID iD for Gardner, Sally
Journal name Outskirts: feminisms along the edge
Volume number 15
Start page 1
End page 19
Publisher University of Western Australia (Chloe)
Place of publication Crawley, W.A.
Publication date 2006-11
ISSN 1326-7965
Summary In her book The Reluctant Modernism of Hannah Arendt (2000) Seyla Benhabib uses the concept of an ‘alternative genealogy of modernity’ to help her both to understand Arendt’s political philosophy and to rethink the potential for civil society to become a progressive political force at the beginning of the twenty first century. The idea of an alternative genealogy of modernity refers to a heterogeneity of social and political forms, spaces and acts that might be used to remap and redefine a modernity whose dominant topology has been shaped by the binary division between so-called public and private spheres. Alternative modernities have already been elaborated and explored from a range of different perspectives including feminist and postcolonial ones: for example, in Rita Felski’s Gender of Modernity (1995) and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincialising Europe (2000). In this paper I want to elaborate upon the idea of an alternative genealogy of modernity from my perspective as a dancer. Thinking through the sociality of art and, more specifically, of some historical dance-making practices can make visible alternative spaces and processes of the (potentially) political. In the West, the modes of art-making form part of an as yet not fully explored arena of the social and of social practices. Modernist and Romantic ideologies have tended to preclude attention to the specific sociabilities of art-making. On the one hand Modernist ideology and art discourses have promoted the idea of an art work’s ‘autonomy’: its radical separation from the social relationships, the bodies and the conditions of its making. On the other hand Romantic ideology, still pervasive in popular conceptions of art practices, construes creation as interiority and individualistic expression. Socialist feminist and Marxist discussions of art have emphasized the social conditions of art-making but these have tended to be concerned with the social inequalities instituted within the public/private split rather than seeking to destabilize that division itself by posing questions of differences within the social. In my discussion below I draw on aspects of early modern dance practice and creation in taking up Benhabib’s concern to mobilise an alternative genealogy of modernity towards a renewal and reactivation of civic life. This project involves unsettling clear distinctions between the so-called ‘public’ and ‘private’ but, at the same time, as Benhabib cautions ‘the binarity of public and private spheres must be reconstructed and not merely rejected’. (2000:2006)
Language eng
Field of Research 190403 Dance
Socio Economic Objective 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2006, University of Western Australia
Free to Read? Yes
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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