Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy
From the bestselling social commentator and cultural historian, a fascinating exploration of one of humanity's oldest traditions: the celebration of communal joy
In the acclaimed Blood Rites, Barbara Ehrenreich delved into the origins of our species' attraction to war. Here, she explores the opposite impulse, one that has been so effectively suppressed that we lack even a term for it: the desire for collective joy, historically expressed in ecstatic revels of feasting, costuming, and dancing.
Ehrenreich uncovers the origins of communal celebration in human biology and culture. Although sixteenth-century Europeans viewed mass festivities as foreign and "savage," Ehrenreich shows that they were indigenous to the West, from the ancient Greeks' worship of Dionysus to the medieval practice of Christianity as a "danced religion." Ultimately, church officials drove the festivities into the streets, the prelude to widespread reformation: Protestants criminalized carnival, Wahhabist Muslims battled ecstatic Sufism, European colonizers wiped out native dance rites. The elites' fear that such gatherings would undermine social hierarchies was justified: the festive tradition inspired French revolutionary crowds and uprisings from the Caribbean to the American plains. Yet outbreaks of group revelry persist, as Ehrenreich shows, pointing to the 1960s rock-and-roll rebellion and the more recent "carnivalization" of sports.
Original, exhilarating, and deeply optimistic, Dancing in the Streets concludes that we are innately social beings, impelled to share our joy and therefore able to envision, even create, a more peaceable future.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Marlenealvarado - LibraryThing
I loved this book! It was joyous to realize that I have forgotten to dance and in so doing lost a lot of joy in my life. I have a tendency towards depression, but when I was able to dance as part of ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - JeremyPreacher - LibraryThing
I liked this and found it an interesting read. Ehrenreich presented some historical events in an unusual light - the rise of Protestantism as a reaction against the increasing disapproval by the ... Read full review
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