Breaking Point?: Flexibility, Pain, and the Calculus of Risk in Neoliberal Multiculturalism
Chapter 4 theorizes flexibility in relation to neoliberal discourses of risk. The beginnings of neoliberalism in the 1970s are marked by a significant shift in capital’s relationship to risk, from risk-aversion to risk-seeking. The emergence of British South Asian dance in the 1980s roughly aligns with this late twentieth-century rise in risk-taking. This chapter examines how neoliberal demands for risk echo and intersect with British multiculturalism’s expectations on South Asian dancers to display virtuosity, speed, and versatility. Together, they create conditions of physical pain and economic precarity for racialized dancing bodies. Dancers’ bodies, however, are not merely inscribed by neoliberalism and multiculturalism. South Asian dancers use choreographic tools and other bodily tactics to gain creative control over their bodily labor and continue to circulate within a competitive British dance economy in ways that are safe and pleasurable. Drawing on Talal Asad’s notion of “pain as action,” this chapter demonstrates how British South Asian dancers intentionally and strategically respond to demands for risk-taking and flexibility through small, seemingly insignificant corporeal tactics, such as enduring pain, modifying choreographic tasks, and practicing care of self and care of others.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.