Katherine Dunham: Decolonizing Anthropology Through African American Dance Pedagogy



This study focuses on the African American dance pedagogy designed by Katherine Dunham and how this story is linked to the intellectual genealogy of African American anthropology. Dunham is argued to be a “decolonizing dance pedagogue” to describe how she recovered important dance epistemologies relevant to people of the African diaspora. Reconciling the consequences of colonization and racism in the “new world,” she engaged in a “critical postcolonial dance recovery.” Dunham's dance education developed from ethnographic research was used to disseminate relevant cultural and spiritual capital in the United States (Cruz Banks, 2009b). Her dance pedagogy is connected to historical and current discourses on racism, colonialism, and practices of decolonizing research.