Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Josephine Baker and Katherine DunhamDances in Literature and Cinema$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Hannah Durkin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042621

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042621.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 05 August 2021

The Dancer as Translator

The Dancer as Translator

Dunham’s Ethnographic Memoirs

(p.47) Chapter Two The Dancer as Translator
Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham

Hannah Durkin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter investigates Katherine Dunham’s book-length ethnographies, Journey to Accompong (1946) and Island Possessed (1969), as autobiographical narratives that document the origins of her cross-cultural artistry. These texts recount Dunham’s experiences as a dance anthropologist in mid-1930s Jamaica and Haiti, shortly before she postponed her academic training to pursue a career on the stage and screen. Like Baker’s narratives, both works are highly reflexive and ambiguous and thus deserve recognition within an African American women’s autobiographical tradition. They position Dunham as a self-conscious narrator who immerses herself physically in the cultural practices that she has been assigned to record. Both texts therefore shed light on a much wider lifelong project, namely, Dunham’s attempt to legitimize Caribbean cultures by incorporating their dance rituals into concert dance.

Keywords:   Katherine Dunham, Journey to Accompong, Island Possessed, anthropology, autobiography, Haiti, Jamaica, vodou, dance, African American literature

Illinois Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.