Orientalism in motion: representations of “belly dance” in paintings and travel literature (19th century)

Naiara Müssnich Rotta Gomes de Assunção Nina Ingrid Caputo Paschoal About the authors


This article analyses representations of “belly dance” in paintings and travel literature produced by Europeans in the 19th century. Locating this dance in time and space, describing characteristics and subjects that were important for the development of this practice, it analyses its deep relationship with the colonization process in Egypt. We conclude that the dances practiced by men and, above all, by women in the Egyptian territory in the 19th century underwent European filters and interpretations before consolidating in the West as “belly dancing”. This socio-political context left visible marks in the way this body repertoire is performed, represented and reputed today.

Belly Dance; Orientalism; Colonialism; Representation; Cultural History

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