Legon Journal of the Humanities

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The instrumentality of the black “Other” in primitivist modernism: A critical analysis of modern dance and modernist language

M Beyad, F Roshnavand


Blaming the logic-stricken culture of Western civilization for the bloodshed of World War I, the avant-garde artists of the early twentieth century set out on a quest for alternative cultures. The desire to find the redeeming life force eventually resulted in modernists’ fascination with the long subalternized African culture. However, the black Other, represented as primitive and exotic, was no more than an instrument in the hands of primitivist modernists. This paper tries to analyze modern dance and modernist language as the two major spheres in which the instrumentality of the black Other is evident in the discourse of primitivist modernism.

Keywords: Primitivism, Modernism, Instrumentality, the “Other”, World War I, Disillusionment

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