Dancing and the Embodiment of Postsecularism
This dissertation examines the manners in which dancing in Lucumi religious rituals, as a practice in cosmological embodiment, destabilizes and/or subverts normative secular values and structures, and considers what this subversion reveals about the development of civil discourse and participatory parity in the United States. In particular, this dissertation focuses on the destabilization of the public/private binary, the use of secularization by religious communities for their own benefit, the
... ir own benefit, the unsettling of the boundaries of the category of religion, and the exposure of the fallacy of secularism as a hallmark of the liberal nation state. The theoretical foundations of the study are in Carribeanist anthropology and postsecularism. Dance and performance ethnography are the primary methods used to analyze two cases studies. The first case study takes place at a Lucumi religious drumming ceremony, known as a tambor, held in the basement of a private home in New York City. The second case study takes places at a Haitian Vodou drumming ceremony held at Riis Beach, in Queens, New York. The findings taken from these case studies suggest that embodiment plays an important, yet often unacknowledged role, in the development of civil discourse, and supports the postsecular argument that in a society defined by plurality, religion(s) offers substantial material in service of the creation of moral frameworks. Dance, in particular, allows bodies and ideas to bridge spaces and ideologies, thus contributing to how individuals perform their identity in society, and to how society envisions itself as a whole.