In this commentary, I examine tap dance as Black soundwork and antiracist activism. Tracing a controversy over the supposed Irish contributions to tap dance’s early history, I question why non-Black practitioners rely on academic knowledge production, especially when Black soundwork is not just marginalized in the academy, but often controlled and rewritten to adhere to white standards. I argue that non-Black peoples need to understand the ways in which origins perform political work, and to critically examine the ways in which correcting origins is only the first step to dismantling systemic racism.
“Black Soundwork, Knowledge Production, and the “Debate” Over Tap Dance Origins”
Sonja Thomas is an Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Colby College. Her research examines caste, race, and Christianity in India, race and South Asian immigration in rural America, and tap dance in the US and globally.
Sonja Thomas; “Black Soundwork, Knowledge Production, and the “Debate” Over Tap Dance Origins”. Resonance 1 December 2020; 1 (4): 412–421. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2020.1.4.412
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