American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination by Black Hawk Hancock

By Black Hawk Hancock

“Perhaps,” wrote Ralph Ellison greater than seventy years in the past, “the zoot go well with comprises profound political that means; probably the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to nice capability power.” As Ellison famous then, a lot of our such a lot mundane cultural types are higher and extra vital than they seem, taking up nice importance and an unforeseen intensity of which means. What he observed within the energy of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine as soon as billed as “America’s precise nationwide folks Dance”—would unfold from black the United States to make an enduring impact on white the United States and supply us a really compelling technique of figuring out our tradition. yet with what hidden implications?

In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock bargains an embedded and embodied ethnography that situates dance inside a bigger Chicago panorama of segregated social practices. Delving into Chicago dance worlds, the Lindy and Steppin’, Hancock makes use of a mixture of participant-observation and interviews to convey to the outside the racial pressure that surrounds white use of black cultural kinds. concentrating on new sorts of appropriation in an period of multiculturalism, Hancock underscores the institutionalization of racial disparities and gives really good insights into the intersection of race and tradition in the USA.

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Extra resources for American Allegory: Lindy Hop and the Racial Imagination

Sample text

To understand the hybridity of the dance does not deny the dominant African American influence on the dance; rather it serves as the basis of its creative potential as a cultural, not racial form. Coming to terms with the racial imagination, we must deconstruct not just the issue of whiteness, but all forms of racializing and racial logic that mediate our ways of seeing, interpreting, and understanding all social interaction. Following Ellison, we must come to understand how culture is embodied and coded through the body and as such come to understand how the racial imagination operates to naturalize and racialize cultural forms.

By utilizing embodiment as a manifestation and the world of Lindy Hop and Steppin’ as a microcosm, this study seeks to explicate larger structures of ethnoracial domination. This study also seeks to understand how the racial imagination operates by refracting, inculcating, and naturalizing the racial mythologies of blackness and whiteness conceptually in our understandings of social life and materially through enactment of cultural practices. As a method, carnal sociology provides a particular point of view as an embedded and embodied practitioner of those practices, as well as how those practices are conceptualized and inculcated.

First, we can ascertain how bodies come to acquire a practical knowledge of the dance; second, we can analyze how this acquisition also incorpo- The Lindy Hop Revival 33 rates the racial mythologies of blackness and whiteness that get refracted into bodies, through the schemata of cognitive, emotional, and bodily labor of learning to dance. As a result, cultural practices, and their historically specific forms of expressions and movements, are fundamentally inseparable from the power relationships that have made the racial categories articulated with them—and the assumptions and myths surrounding those categories—enduring sociological concerns.

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