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Arts & Culture

Modern Moves: Kinetic Transnationalism and Afro-Diasporic Rhythm Cultures

Modern Moves colourful dancers

Modern Moves was funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant (2.2m €). Directed by PI Professor Ananya Kabir, along with a team of two postdoctoral researchers Dr Madison Moore (now at Richmond University, Virginia) and Dr Elina Djebbari (now at University of Paris-3 Diderot), a PhD student (Leyneuf Tines), an administrator (Ania Stawarska), and several Associated Researchers based in Lisbon, Paris, and London. It has run from 2013-18.

Modern Moves conducted research on a central question: what can the global popularity of social dances that arose from the violent and traumatic histories of slavery and colonialism tell us about modernity itself? Uprooted peoples from the African continent used their embodied heritage to resist, protest, and express their humanity. The new, creolized, music and dance forms that arose reflected encounters, both creative and coerced, with European, Indigenous, and Asian cultures, within inter-imperial frameworks; subsequently, they became part of the global leisure economy under capitalism, the Cold War, and beyond.

Modern Moves studied the transformative potential of these social dances through an innovative methodology that combined research visits to dance floors and libraries worldwide, and a highly successful series of Moving Conversations and annual Research Showcases at King's.

These carefully-curated events, which brought together internationally-renowned dance practitioners, musicians, DJs, and academics and lively audiences of ‘thinking dancers’ and ‘dancing thinkers’, became legendary in London’s dance community. Each event was recorded and, together with the team’s field visits, constitute a valuable archive for further academic research. Research outputs include monographs by team members and a number of co-edited journal special issues.

Project status: Completed

Project websites


Funding Body: European Research Council

Amount: €2,200,000

Period: January 2013 - January 2018