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Dance and Authoritarianism

These Boots are Made for Dancing

Everyone who watched the opening ceremony of Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics can understand the power of dance and mass movement in the service of politics. Public performance and festival at such scale are familiar to us in Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union, and contemporary North Korea, but this new book addresses lesser-known examples—in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Iran, Croatia, and Uzbekistan—and explores the various political regimes that ruled them. 

Using dance as a lens through which to study political, ethnic, and gendered phenomena, Anthony Shay shows us how dance and mass movement have served as important political tools throughout history and across a variety of authoritarian regimes. Dance and Authoritarianism is a significant and original contribution to the scholarship at the intersection of dance, ethnology, anthropology, cultural studies, and history.

312 pages | 18 halftones | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2

Black Studies

Culture Studies

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Table of Contents



  1. Dance and Ethnicity
  2. Dance and Nationalism
  3. Iran: The Shah’s New Dance
  4. Croatia: Lado—“Light of Croatian Culture”
  5. Spain: Women’s Work—The Sección Femenina and Spanish Folk Dance
  6. Dominican Republic: The Dictator’s Fancy Dance—Trujillo and Merengue
  7. Uzbekistan: Old Lamps for New—The Creation of Uzbek “Classical” Dance





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