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In the Mirror of "Pagan Dance": North American Indigenous Dance and the Quest for European Origins (2019-2023)

Lindsey Drury, Research Area 5: "Building Digital Communities"
Postdoctoral Research Project

From the ideas of antiquity to descriptions of native peoples encountered in colonization, Europeans and European Americans have long sought images of "the primitive pagan" as a means by which to imagine the origins of "western culture" itself. Through the project In the Mirror of "Pagan" Dance, Drury investigates complexes of textual influence, embodied practice, and material relations from the early modern period through the 20th century that shared in a vision of human nature as exemplified by universal "pagan" primitivism. The project traces how colonial and postcolonial European identity was staged and re-staged in religious, historical, scholarly, and theoretical literature—thus structuring the material means by which a history of ideas on pagan dance shaped wider European theories of time, history, and human origins.