Review of Indigenous Dance and Dancing Indian: Contested Representation in the Global Era by Matthew Krystal.
Gish Hill, Christina
Considering how little research exists on indigenous dance, Matthew Krystal's new book is a much needed addition to the scholarship. He not only adds valuable ethnographic material to the literature on dance but also brings new insight to studies of identity as expressed and shaped through performance. Krystal skillfully navigates the subtle contradictions of dance as both an expression of traditional ethnic identity working against the homogenizing factors of globalization and a challenge to tradition through adopting new cultural elements. He uses four case studies to illuminate issues of authenticity and identity construction, drawing on extensive fieldwork among the K'iche Mayan, Midwestern Native American powwow dancers, Mexican folkloric dancers, and University of Illinois football fans. Krystal argues that dance expresses two basic human tensions, that of cultural conformity versus cultural change and that of individual expression versus group conformity. His research allows him to explore the ways these tensions get articulated among indigenous dancers in North America, as well as nonindigenous people who portray indigenous people through dance. The groups he chooses allow for some fascinating parallels while revealing important divergences for understanding identity and representation as
This review is published as Review of Indigenous Dance and Dancing Indian: Contested Representation in the Global Era by Matthew Krystal. Journal of Anthropological Research 2013 69(1):134-135. DOI: 10.3998/jar.0521004.0069.106. Posted with permission.