TALK: Sources and Currents: YouTube-mediated Conflicts in a Transnational “Afro” Dance Scene, Laura Steil (Traveling Faculty, School for International Training, Paris)

Event Date: 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 - 5:30pm

Event Location: 

  • 3145 SSMS

Date: November 2, 2016 / 5:30 PM

Location: 3145 SSMS


This talk addresses YouTube-mediated conflicts over artistic authorship and authority, between artists from the African continent and those in the French Diaspora. Arguments regarding the source of popular movements, and whether variations may be called full-blown “genres” as opposed to mere “currents,” flourish online and offline. They are magnified in YouTube videos in which artists display dance skills alongside assertions of precedence and seniority. These videos generate new proximities, albeit adversarial, between artists dispersed across the globe, and disrupt established hierarchies and geographies of transmission, which tend to rest on constructs of Africa as “source” and diaspora as “copy.”

Laura Steil is an anthropologist interested in urban dance cultures, transnationalism in the digital age, and youth sociabilities. She obtained her PhD in 2015 at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris. Her research, based on fieldwork in the Parisian dance scene, examines how young black people negotiate social mobility and political visibility through cultural practice. She is currently working on her first manuscript, Boucan! Loud Moves Against Invisibility in Postcolonial France. She has contributed to African Critical Studies and to collective volumes on dance, migrating musics, and the African diaspora in France. She is an active member of a French research group of dance ethnographers. She is currently a traveling faculty member at the School for International Training based in Paris.

Cosponsored by the African Studies RFG, the Center for the Interdisciplinary Studies of Music, the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department of French and Italian, and the Department of Theater and Dance.