Hunter Gatherer Research

Dance, play, laugh

What capitalism can't do

Hunter Gatherer Research (2015), 1, (1), 85–105.

Abstract

Using the theme of women's ritual dance among Central African hunter-gatherers, this paper will examine an alternative kind of politics to that common in societies in which property, social hierarchy and corporatism have become the dominant structural principles. In a previous paper I described spirit performances known respectively as mokondi massana or molimo during which Mbendjele and Mbuti dancers organise into formal gender groups. These impromptu coalitions distribute social power by literally dancing it out. Here I go further in exploring the epistemological and political implications of this power-model. The part played by collective dance in releasing the socially productive power of desire is examined. And the kind of fluid sociality this movement generates is contrasted with the physical fragmentation encouraged by capitalist societies. A new model for power is developed drawing on the insights of deluze and guattari, Turner, Marcuse and recent dance and movement theory. The paper aims to demonstrate that the immediate somatic force expressed through the dialogism of ritual dance, and central to egalitarian sociality, is the antithesis of capitalism.

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Finnegan, Morna