Movement as Politics: Disability Dance and the Politics of Corporeal Aesthetics

The Henry Schwartzman Faculty Seminar

Intimate DuetGili Hammer
Hebrew Univeristy of Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

The case study of disability/integrated dance – an art form in which dancers with and without disabilities dance together – raises fundamental questions about the body's relationship to the concept of "disability." Disability dance offers insights into the ways bodily differences are represented, negotiated, and experienced through artistic expression. In this art form, choreographers, directors, and practitioners employ the moving body and mobility apparatuses, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, and crutches, to expand participation of disabled dancers. Disability dance thus offers a means of resisting the medical diagnosis of disability as a pathology as well as the normative aesthetic category of the fit, able-bodied dancer. Based on six years of ethnographic fieldwork with integrated dance projects in Israel and the US, this talk will explore the intersection of somatics, politics, and aesthetics in disability dance, arguing for the ways it serves as a microcosm of larger political struggles for inclusion. 

Open to faculty and graduate students.

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Gili HammerGili Hammer is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Program in Cultural Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In her doctoral research at the Hebrew University, she focused on the social constructions of gender and femininity among blind women, and on the cultural construction of blindness and sight in the Israeli public sphere. Her current research examines sensory practices and embodied politics within the “disability culture” phenomenon, exploring integrated dance projects that bring together dancers with and without disabilities in Israel and the United States. Her work focuses on the ways that “corporeal otherness” is represented, negotiated, and regulated in the public sphere, and the meeting of diverse body types. Her fields of research include disability studies, anthropology of the senses, gender studies, research of visual culture, anthropological and sociological theory, and performance studies. She is the author of Blindness through the Looking Glass: The Performance of Blindness, Gender, and the Sensory Body (University of Michigan Press, 2019), and her articles have appeared in Gender & SocietySignsDisability Studies QuarterlyMedical Anthropology QuarterlyJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and American Anthropologist.