This pathbreaking collection
of intellectual biographies is the first to probe the careers of thirteen
early African-American anthropologists, detailing both their achievements
and their struggle with the latent and sometimes blatant racism of the
times. Invaluable to historians of anthropology, this collection will
also be useful to readers interested in African-American studies and biography.
The lives and work of: Caroline
Bond Day, Zora Neale Hurston, Louis Eugene King, Laurence Foster, W. Montague
Cobb, Katherine Dunham, Ellen Irene Diggs, Allison Davis, St. Clair Drake,
Arthur Huff Fauset, William S. Willis Jr., Hubert Barnes Ross, Elliot
Katherine Dunham University of Chicago Press, 1994 Library of Congress F1916.D8 1994 | Dewey Decimal 972.94
Just as surely as Haiti is "possessed" by the gods and spirits of vaudun (voodoo), the island "possessed" Katherine Dunham when she first went there in 1936 to study dance and ritual. In this book, Dunham reveals how her anthropological research, her work in dance, and her fascination for the people and cults of Haiti worked their spell, catapulting her into experiences that she was often lucky to survive. Here Dunham tells how the island came to be possessed by the demons of voodoo and other cults imported from various parts of Africa, as well as by the deep class divisions, particularly between blacks and mulattos, and the political hatred still very much in evidence today. Full of the flare and suspense of immersion in a strange and enchanting culture, Island Possessed is also a pioneering work in the anthropology of dance and a fascinating document on Haitian politics and voodoo.
Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham were the two most acclaimed and commercially successful African American dancers of their era and among the first black women to enjoy international screen careers. Both also produced fascinating memoirs that provided vital insights into their artistic philosophies and choices. However, difficulties in accessing and categorizing their works on the screen and on the page have obscured their contributions to film and literature. Hannah Durkin investigates Baker and Dunham’s films and writings to shed new light on their legacies as transatlantic artists and civil rights figures. Their trailblazing dancing and choreography reflected a belief that they could use film to confront racist assumptions while also imagining—within significant confines—new aesthetic possibilities for black women. Their writings, meanwhile, revealed their creative process, engagement with criticism, and the ways each mediated cultural constructions of black women's identities. Durkin pays particular attention to the ways dancing bodies function as ever-changing signifiers and de-stabilizing transmitters of cultural identity. In addition, she offers an overdue appraisal of Baker and Dunham's places in cinematic and literary history.
“Kaiso,” a term of praise that is the calypso equivalent of “bravo,” is a fitting title for this definitive and celebratory collection of writings by and about Katherine Dunham, the legendary African American dancer, choreographer, anthropologist, and social activist. Originally produced in the 1970s, this is a newly revised and much expanded edition that includes recent scholarly articles, Dunham’s essays on dance and anthropology, press reviews, interviews, and chapters from Dunham’s unpublished volume of memoirs, “Minefields.” With nearly a hundred selections by dozens of authors, Kaiso! provides invaluable insight into the life and work of this pioneering anthropologist and performer and is certain to become an essential resource for scholars and general readers interested in social anthropology, dance history, African American studies, or Katherine Dunham herself.
Throughout the better part of the twentieth century, and in performance halls, classrooms, and communities throughout the world, the wellspring of Katherine Dunham's remarkable career can be traced to the intersection of dance, culture, and society. More than a recounting of Dunham's accomplishments as a dancer and choreographer, this biography is the first to thoroughly examine her pioneering contributions to dance anthropology and her commitment to humanizing society through the arts.
Founder of the first self-supporting African American dance company, Dunham relied on her fieldwork as an anthropologist to fundamentally change modern dance. She shaped new dance techniques and introduced other cultures to U.S. and European audiences by fusing Caribbean and African-based movement with ballet and modern dance. Her revolutionary approaches to dance and its greater connection to the world have influenced a generation of dancers, theatrical performers, and scholars. She believes that dance involves the development of an entire person and the rituals and traditions of dance are integral to the study of culture. Throughout her career she has been a living model of the socially responsible artist working to whet cultural appetites and combat social injustice.
Joyce Aschenbrenner's multifaceted portrait blends personal observations based on her own interactions with Dunham, archival documents, and interviews with Dunham's colleagues, students, and members of the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.
Integrating these sources, Aschenbrenner characterizes the social, familial, and cultural environment of Dunham's upbringing and the intellectual and artistic community she embraced at the University of Chicago that laid the groundwork for her development as a dancer, anthropologist, and humanitarian. The book vividly depicts Dunham's and her dancers' touring experiences and includes detailed descriptions of her community cultural and educational programs in East St. Louis.
The Negro in Illinois was produced by a special division of the Illinois Writers' Project, one of President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration programs. Headed by Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps and white proletarian writer Jack Conroy, The Negro in Illinois employed Richard Wright, Margaret Walker, Katherine Dunham, Fenton Johnson, Frank Yerby, Richard Durham, and other major black writers living in Chicago.
The authors chronicled the African American experience in Illinois from the beginnings of slavery to the Great Migration. Individual chapters discuss various aspects of public and domestic life, recreation, politics, religion, literature, and performing arts. After the project's cancellation in 1942, most of the writings went unpublished for more than half a century--until now. Editor Brian Dolinar provides an informative introduction and epilogue which explain the origins of the project and place it in the context of the Black Chicago Renaissance.
An internationally known dancer, choreographer, and gifted anthropologist, Katherine Dunham was born to a black American tailor and a well-to-do French Canadian woman twenty years his senior. This book is Dunham's story of the chaos and conflict that entered her childhood after her mother's early death.
In stark prose, she tells of growing up in both black and white households and of the divisions of race and class in Chicago that become the harsh realities of her young life. A riveting narrative of one girl's struggle to transcend the painful confusions of a family and culture in turmoil, Dunham's story is full of the clarity, candor, and intelligence that lifted her above her troubled beginnings.
"A Touch of Innocence is an absorbing family chronicle written with a gift for physical detail sometimes too real for comfort. In quietly graphic prose the growing girl, the slightly older brother, the ambitious father and the kind stepmother are pictured in such human terms that when their lives get tied into harder and harder knots beyond their undoing, one can only continue to read helplessly as doom closes in upon the household."—Langston Hughes, New York Herald Tribune
"A Touch of Innocence is one of the most extraordinary life stories I have ever read . . . . The content of this book is so heartbreaking that only the strongest artistic skills can keep it from leaking out into sobbing self-pity, but Katherine Dunham's art contains it, understands it and refuses to be overwhelmed by its terrors."—Elizabeth Janeway, New York Times
"The first eighteen years of the famous dancer and choreographer's life are brought vividly to the reader in this first volume of her autobiography. She writes of what it is like to be a special, gifted young woman growing up in a racially mixed family in the American Middle West. A beautiful, touching and sometimes discomforting book."—Publishers Weekly
"As writing it is honest, searing, graphic and touching, giving us a rather heartbreaking early view of the young American Negro who was later to make a name for herself as a dancer and choreographer."—Arthur Todd, Saturday Review