Field and Subfield Work. Methodological Reflections on Ethnographic Research in Dance

Mahalia Lassibille

October 21, 2016 - 10:00 a.m.
Free ticket until full capacity is reached
Nouvel Building, Auditorium 400
Organized by
Conservatorio Superior de Danza María de Ávila de Madrid 
In collaboration with
Museo Reina Sofía
View of the Nouvel Building, Auditorium 400, Museo Reina Sofía
View of the Nouvel Building, Auditorium 400, Museo Reina Sofía

Due to health reasons, this conference is canceled.

This master lecture, in conjunction with the seminar Dance, Gender and Nation: 1930–1960, is given by Mahalia Lassibille, head professor of the Department of Dance at the University of Paris 8 and an anthropologist specialised in Africa. Lassibille has focused her research on the uses of dance categories, particularly “traditional African dance” and “contemporary African dance”, and their choreographic effects.

On this occasion, she will reflect upon the methodologies and possibilities of fieldwork related to the ethnography of dance.

For professor Lassibille “fieldwork involves putting ‘body and soul’ into the subject matter to be studied, which requires a certain method and positioning that must be determined”. She feels that the researcher is not solely a witness but a co-agent in the situations they face, prompting them to think about and define the conditions of their work, status and position, their field and subfield (terrain y sous-terrain in the words of Marc Abélès). In short, placing themselves in relation to the specific context being studied and exploring the main methodological tools available – participant observation, field journals, a compilation of oral testimonies… - considering at once their values and their limitations.

Mahalia Lassibille is head professor of the Dance Department at the University of Paris 8. As an anthropologist specialised in dance in Africa, she has conducted field research into the dances of the Peuls WoDaaBe from Niger, related them to the study of the so-called “traditional”, “theatrical” and “tourist” contexts in order to capture their political and identity dynamics. She is also a member of the research team Analyse des discours et pratiques en danses (Analysis of Dance Discourses and Practices), of the Musidanse Laboratory (EA 1572) from the editorial board of the magazine Recherches en danse (Dance Research); an associate member of URMIS “Migrations et sociétés” [Migrations and Societies] (UMR 205) and vice-president of the Association des Chercheurs en Danse [Association of Dance Researchers).