With its roots in Middle Eastern and North African dance, belly dance is a popular leisure activity in the West with women (and some men) of all ages and body types pursing the activity for diverse reasons. Drawing on empirical research, fieldwork, and interviews with participants, this book investigates the social world and small group cultures of American belly dance, examining the various ways in which people use leisure to construct the self and social relationships.
With attention to gender expectations, body image, sexuality, community, spiritual experiences, and the process of identifying with a leisure activity, this book shows how people engage in the same pursuit in a variety of ways. It sheds light on the manner in which dancers strive to deal with the challenges presented by internal power struggles and legitimacy bids, public beliefs, narrow cultural ideals of beauty and often sexualized assumptions about their art.
A fascinating study of identity work and the reproduction and challenging of gender norms through a gendered leisure activity, Gendered Bodies and Leisure: The Practice and Performance of American Belly Dance will be of interest to students and scholars researching gender and sexuality, the sociology of leisure, the sociology of the body and interactionist thought.