Date of Award
MA - Master of Arts
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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Silva, Carlie, "The Embodiment of Culture: How Anthropology Informs the Practice of Dance/Movement Therapy" (2020). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 293.
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