How Black Caribbean Communities Are Reviving an Ancestral Dance Tradition

Repeating Islands

An interview by Eshe Lewis with anthropologist Camee Maddox-Wingfield for Sapiens explores how practitioners of bèlè on the island of Martinique find agency, healing, and connection. Lewis holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and is the public anthropology fellow at SAPIENS.

As public discussions about social justice and Black resistance continue in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, an African American man, by a White, Minneapolis police officer last year, protestors around the world have filled city streets calling for structural changes that will protect and value Black lives. At the same time, Black communities are continuing conversations about creating safe spaces where members can continue to share knowledge, heal, honor their pasts, and build dignified futures.

Dance is one space for such community- and identity-building throughout the globe. In Martinique, for example, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, practitioners ofbèlè, an ancestral dance practice…

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