Dance as a register of war: following unruly bodies, affects, and sounds in conflict

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What do people do in the face of violence, war, and tragedy? How do those touched by violence survive, live on, keep on going and feeling? What if ‘dance first, think later’ IS the natural order? In this paper, I propose dancing as an everyday, embodied, and multisensorial register of war. Combining new trajectories in war and military studies with ongoing feminist scholarship on war, embodiment, and emotions and interdisciplinary research on dance and electronic music, this paper explores entanglements between sites of political violence, militarism, and electronic dance music and culture. Drawing upon my research in Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I argue that attending to these unseen entanglements activates distinctive ways of knowing the politics of war: they reveal alternative narratives of armed conflict mediated through and in between DJ performances, dancing bodies, and electronic sounds. These experiences offer important insights that unsettle taken for granted locations and affective economies of war while also reproducing conflict logics and divisions. I propose dance as a heuristic device that can recalibrate our understanding of the sensuous, affective, and embodied politics of/in war, enabling us to explore fragile possibilities for resistance and escape from its grip.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Military Studies
Early online date17 Oct 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 17 Oct 2022


  • Affect
  • creativity
  • dance
  • everyday
  • sound
  • war

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Law


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