The Dance of Politics: Gender, Performance, and Democratization in Malawi

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $49.64
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 25%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $49.64   
  • New (3) from $49.64   
  • Used (2) from $66.49   


Election campaigns, political events, and national celebration days in Malawi usually feature groups of women who dance and perform songs of praise for politicians and political parties. These lively performances help to attract and energize throngs of prospective voters. However, as Lisa Gilman explains, "praise performing" is one of the only ways that poor women are allowed to participate in a male-dominated political system.

Although political performances by women are not unique to Malawi, the case is complicated by the fact that until 1994 women in this country were required to perform on behalf of the long-reigning political party-the Malawi Congress Party-and its self-declared "President for Life," Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. This is the first book to examine the present-day situation, where issues of gender, economics and politics collide in surprising ways. Along with its solid grounding in the relevant literature, The Dance of Politics draws strength from Gilman's firsthand observations and her interviews with a range of participants in the political process, from dancers to politicians to human rights activists.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this carefully documented book, Lisa Gilman demonstrates how the embodied experiences of women’s political dancing have served to both reinscribe and challenge women’s subordinate status in Malawi. Through a nuanced analysis of the transformations of women's praise performing, Gilman provides an interdisciplinary ethnography that serves as an excellent model of intersectional research. She examines how power and agency operate on, with, and through women’s performative bodies and minds at the intersections of gender, politics, and economics. A must read for anyone interested in women, gender, and power in Africa."
—Jennifer Leigh Disney, Associate Professor of Political Science at Winthrop University and author of Women’s Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua (Temple)

“Gilman’s insightful book…. is very solidly rooted in first-hand observation, a piece of detailed reportage where events and discussions are related with the authority of extensive empirical witness over more than a decade. Direct quotation from interviews is extensive and the narrative is firmly grounded in the grassroots. At times it has a diary-like aspect….The reader is placed alongside the author, close to the raw data…. [A] worthy addition.”

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592139859
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2009
  • Series: African Soundscapes Series
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Gilman is Assistant Professor in the English Department and Folklore Program at the University of Oregon.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Gender, Power, and Performance 
2. Dance and Nationalism in the Independence Movement 
3. Dance and Social Control During Banda’s Presidency 
4. Dance, the Transition to Multipartyism, and Patronage 
5. Power and Performance in Political Rallies 
6. Why Do Women Dance? 
7. Gendering Democracy 
8. Gender at the Intersection of Politics, Democratization, and Tradition 
Appendix A: Brief Timeline of Malawi’s Recent Po liti cal History 
Appendix B: People Interviewed 
Appendix C: Political Functions Attended and Referenced 
Appendix D: Associated Multimedia Websites 

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)