Event Title

Comparing Ethnocentric Bias: 20th Century and Today

Faculty Mentor

Margaret Schriffen, M.F.A. and Emily Morgan, M.F.A.

College

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Department

Theatre & Dance

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

Start Date

24-4-2015 4:35 PM

Description

Dance historians are prone to forms of bias which, as scholars, it is their duty to minimize, since objectivity in academic discourse is essential to seeking truth. Western dance historians and scholars should be wary of the resultant bias from viewing non-western dance forms. This ethnocentric bias is fostered by a tendency to belittle other cultures with which one is only superficially familiar. Anthropologist Joann Kealiinohomoku in her widely studied article “An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance,” claims that it is common for western dance historians to believe that their dance is more developed and inherently superior in form compared to those labeled as “primitive.” Throughout the rest of her piece, she continually references the perpetrations of non-objective literature regarding many “primitive” dance forms, especially regarding Native Americans. Fortunately, in the discussion of Native American dance forms, more recent writings from 21st-century authors such as Gilda Frantz, Jay Myers, and Jacqueline Murphy are less shaded by ethnocentric bias compared to the writings published by Walter Sorell and Walter Terry during the 20th century. In comparing these 21st-century writings to those from the 20th century, the discussion of Native American dance forms by western dance scholars has changed greatly. This includes the way Native Americans are addressed, how their movement is described in terms of appreciation and understanding, and finally, how the significance of their dance is recognized. Thus, we see writers shedding ethnocentric bias to provide more objective commentary on non-western dance forms.

Comments

Presented at the Big South Undergraduate Research Symposium (BigSURS), April 2015

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Apr 24th, 4:35 PM

Comparing Ethnocentric Bias: 20th Century and Today

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 220

Dance historians are prone to forms of bias which, as scholars, it is their duty to minimize, since objectivity in academic discourse is essential to seeking truth. Western dance historians and scholars should be wary of the resultant bias from viewing non-western dance forms. This ethnocentric bias is fostered by a tendency to belittle other cultures with which one is only superficially familiar. Anthropologist Joann Kealiinohomoku in her widely studied article “An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance,” claims that it is common for western dance historians to believe that their dance is more developed and inherently superior in form compared to those labeled as “primitive.” Throughout the rest of her piece, she continually references the perpetrations of non-objective literature regarding many “primitive” dance forms, especially regarding Native Americans. Fortunately, in the discussion of Native American dance forms, more recent writings from 21st-century authors such as Gilda Frantz, Jay Myers, and Jacqueline Murphy are less shaded by ethnocentric bias compared to the writings published by Walter Sorell and Walter Terry during the 20th century. In comparing these 21st-century writings to those from the 20th century, the discussion of Native American dance forms by western dance scholars has changed greatly. This includes the way Native Americans are addressed, how their movement is described in terms of appreciation and understanding, and finally, how the significance of their dance is recognized. Thus, we see writers shedding ethnocentric bias to provide more objective commentary on non-western dance forms.