Marta Elena Savigliano is a political theorist and anthropologist from Argentina. Her areas of interest include the politics of culture and the transnational traffic of cultural goods, workers, ideologies and affects under global capitalism. Exoticism and cultural (mis)translations conceptually guide her research on dance and dancers’ migrations. The active participation of artists and intellectuals in reproducing or challenging historical and contemporary colonial world orders is consistently discussed in her work. Savigliano is Professor Emerita of UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures department. She is currently Professor of Critical Dance Studies at UC Riverside, Director of the Body, Performance, and Dance Research Platform, and co-founder of GLOSAS (Global South Advanced Studies) in Buenos Aires. She was named President of CORD (Congress of Research in Dance) in September 2010.
My project addresses the emergence of choreographic works created by artists from the Global South that, while engaging with the exoticizing discourses of ‘World dance,’ challenge exoticism through self-parodic enactments of sensuality. It is often claimed that globalization either fosters cultural homogenization, especially through the spread of Americanization across the globe, or that it gives way to local re-appropriations of mostly Western, now global, culture. However, the global circulation of stereotypical images of exotic sensualities among those taken for exotics themselves remains undertheorized. The participation of ‘others’ has been taken for granted in the reproduction of exoticism in cultures of globalization, such as in the World music and World dance industries, in tourism, and in cultural diplomacy. Tensions between the need for authenticity/tradition, on the one hand, and an attunement to cosmopolitanism/‘global’ marketability, on the other, have frequently been pointed out. These conflicting pulls and pushes, however, have been interpreted as conducive to the further production of exoticism as the target market is the globalized, wealthy consumer of otherness to whom exotic sensualities are increasingly available and to whom ‘exotics’ cater. I intend to focus on the development of spectacles of ‘culture’ that defy expected stereotypes of sensuality by exaggerating self-exoticism, or appropriating yet another’s exotica, thus opening a gap for critical re-appropriation and self-reflection and reconfiguring exoticism by highlighting its very premise. I intend to address the politics of the aesthetics of post-exotic dances and dancers, elaborating on the coexistence of two economies: that of the market and that of the gift.