Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Meg Chang


The field of anthropology – the study of human culture – has much to contribute to understanding the practice of dance/movement therapy (DMT) from a culturally-informed vantage point. We exist in an epoch of expressive arts therapy where multicultural competency is becoming increasingly emphasized. Yet, culture’s grasp goes beyond its influence on the way people understand their world – it also shapes how people come to understand and make meaning with their bodies. This thesis reviews five categories of literature: 1) the influence of culture on the construction of the embodied “self”; 2) the influence of culture on movement tendencies and patterns; 3) cross-cultural differences in interoception, or somatic awareness; 4) DMT as practiced in non-Western contexts; and 5) what an anthropological perspective teaches us about DMT as a field. This literature review illuminated how complex our bodies and their movements are and how multifaceted the process of meaning-making is. It also exposed various cultural and systemic issues within the research and practice of our accepted dance/movement paradigm, and as a result, pointed towards ways that we, as dance/movement therapists, can remedy our cultural blind spots in the future of our work.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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