The Micropolitics of Exchange: Exile and Otherness After the Nation

Elswit, Kate (2017) The Micropolitics of Exchange: Exile and Otherness After the Nation. In: The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics. Oxford University Press, New York, USA, pp. 417-438. ISBN 9780199928187


Exile has received relatively little attention in dance studies, although forced migration in the mid-twentieth century reconfigured artistic and intellectual landscapes on multiple continents. This essay turns to German dance during and after the Third Reich, while drawing on theoretical and historical treatments of exile developed in other disciplines, as well as constructions of national identity. Such perspectives on displacement suggest that it is not the place of exiled artists, which needs to be reassessed within national dance histories; rather, these artists offer an opportunity to assess the contours of the historical narrations themselves and, with them, other forms of belonging. The case studies of Valeska Gert and Kurt Jooss highlight the micropolitics of exile’s transnational exchange. These intricate, personalized cross-currents were catalyzed by survival strategies that registered in the work itself and left traces in history, which can only be seen by engaging with multiple forms of otherness.


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