Abstract

This paper examines the role of European ballroom dances such as the grand march in the shaping of group identity, both in Liberia and for Liberians in the United States. I use participant-observation, interviews, and historical documentation to trace transformations in the grand march from the performance of an exclusive, educated Americo-Liberian elite in the nineteenth century to a more inclusive practice, open to Liberians of all backgrounds who immigrated to the United States in the twentieth century. In both cases of these interconnected diasporas, collective performance is used reflexively, to perform group identity for others, and transformatively, to redefine the group itself. This study suggests the need for further attention to performance in studies of ethnic group identity formation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1978
Print ISSN
0001-9887
Pages
pp. 28-53
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-18
Open Access
No
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