Research Summary: The purpose of this actor-network theory (ANT) driven research is to deconstruct the phenomenon that is hip-hop dance and identify significant material ‘actors’ that contribute to the ongoing construction and reconstruction of the popular cultural and artistic form. It focuses particularly on the relationships between the moving body, dress, and space, and the idea that each of these actors exhibits agency. I explore how these actors constantly displace and transform one another, which is a process known in actor-network theory as ‘translation’. Through ethnographic research methods and the concept of translation, I analyse the negotiations, intrigues, calculations and acts of persuasion through which an actor is changed in contemporary hip-hop dance environments – e.g. dance studios, theatres, public spaces, online – and in specific moments of performance. I highlight the effects of translation and how it leads to the constant making and re-making of actor-networks, which come together to form an apparently coherent whole. More specifically, this research illustrates how relations between actors are repeatedly performed and how information flows from one actor-network to another, thus keeping the actor-networks, and thereby hip-hop dance culture in existence.
Biography: Kamaira Anderson is currently a PhD candidate at London College of Fashion, UAL. Her experience lies in the fields of sociology, art and design, and community theatre. Wanting to engage with both dance and dress, she applied for the first London College of Fashion and Sadler’s Wells PhD Studentship and received the funding award in 2016. Working closely with Sadler’s Wells project Breakin’ Convention, an international festival of hip-hop dance theatre, Kami attempts to re-evaluate hip-hop from a new materialist perspective and hopes to reveal hidden material agencies that have previously been obscured. Using actor-network theory as an analytical frame, her doctoral work unpacks the many layers of contemporary hip-hop dance performance– including, street/underground b-boying (also known as ‘breaking’) and battle culture, online hip-hop choreography, and experimental hip-hop theatre. Whilst New York provides important historical context for her research, Kami is particularly interested in the lived experiences of hip-hop dance practitioners in the UK. She explores how concepts and values pertaining to hip-hop, dance and dress emerge through shared creative practice and flow between transnational communities, or ‘networks’ of dancers.
Supervisors: Donatella Barbieri, Anna-Mari Almia, Agnes Treplin