Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy is a book authored by Barbara Ehrenreich. Contents. 1 Description; 2 Well-known examples of Collective Joy. In her latest book, Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the history of group festivities and the emotions these. Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich The Face of Battle by John Keegan The.

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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich. Dancing in the Streets: From the bestselling social ehrenriech and cultural historian, a fascinating exploration of one of humanity’s oldest traditions: Here, she explores the opposite impulse, one that has been so effectively suppressed that we lack even a From the bestselling social commentator and cultural historian, a fascinating exploration of one of humanity’s oldest traditions: Here, she explores the opposite impulse, one that has been so effectively suppressed that we lack even a term for it: 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. Protestants criminalized carnival, Wahhabist Muslims battled ecstatic Sufism, European colonizers wiped out native dance rites.

The elites’ fear that such gatherings would streefs social hierarchies was justified: Yet outbreaks of group revelry persist, as Ehrenreich shows, pointing to the s 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.

Hardcoverpages. Published January 9th by Metropolitan Books first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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Lists with This Book. Y cuando no pueden evitarlo, intentan controlarlos o hacen “festejos” suyos. Apr 05, Siria rated it liked it Shelves: Four out of five stars for the idea, two out of five stars for execution.

Ehrenreich’s dahcing to Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy points out a quizzical disconnect in modern Western culture. We put an awful lot of time and effort into studying depression, malaise, the things that make us happy and the things that isolate us, but very little effort into studying the things that make us happy or which bring us together.

Ehrenreich traces the history of expressions of commu Four out of five stars for the idea, two out of streetw stars for execution. Ehrenreich traces the history of expressions of communal joy and ecstatic communion—and the suppression of those celebrations—from prehistoric times through jn the present day.

In general, I think she makes some good points here.

Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich

Why is it that modern Westerners can conceive so easily of strong bonds between individuals but less so between groups? What have we lost in the search for individual freedom?

There’s definitely fodder for thought and for discussion in the ideas Ehrenreich raises. However, I cannot recommend the methodology which Ehrenreich uses here. She admits at the outset that there is a bias in the sources towards the history of the West, yet makes little attempt to correct that tendency in her own writing.

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Moreover, what little discussion she has of non-Western cultures largely comes from Western sources. Ehrenreich may also have read broadly in order to read this book, but she does not seem to have read deeply, and much of the secondary scholarship on which she draws is shockingly dated, dating from the 50s and 60s. Dodds’ work is foundational for a lot of recent scholarship, but it’s also been superseded in many, many ways—the man died in the 70s!

Why does she reference his work and not Peter Brown’s? Surely a more influential scholar in the field of late antique religion, whose work would, I think, be illuminating on this topic, even if he never directly addresses it! I think that a knowledge of Caroline Walker Bynum’s work on food and the body in the Middle Ages, for instance, would have changed her characterisation of the medieval Mass and how laypeople participated in it.

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Similarly, greater familiarity with scholarly terminology on Ehrenreich’s part would have strengthened her work—when historians or anthropologists refer to things as “liminal”, that does not mean, as she seems to think, that they are dismissing something as marginal or unimportant, but rather that it gains in power or possibility because it straddles the margins of more than one sphere.

It’s not so easily categorised. I listened to the audiobook version of this. I greatly enjoyed the reader’s jn and verve, but I really wish that she’d taken the time to clarify the pronunciation of srreets words before the recording. The French in particular made me wince. Jul 28, Larry Bassett rated it it was ok Shelves: Barbara Ehrenreich is one of my hero authors because of her books Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch.

She has written a number of other books but these two address social issues that I find particularly compelling. They are also books where her writing is quite kn and succinct. On the other hand Dancing in the Streets hammers home its points by excessive repetition.

For example, in the Introduction Ehrenreich writes a twenty page thesis on ceremonies that she considers celebratory in som Barbara Ehrenreich is one of my hero authors because of her books Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch.

For example, in the Introduction Dancingg writes a twenty page thesis on ceremonies that she considers celebratory in some way. Hardly any of these examples, and there are many, are unique. ehrendeich

Most are of the same nature but in different cultural settings. She calls these ecstatic rituals. This point is made and made, then made again. Enough, Barbara, I get the point. In Dancing in the Streets she looks in the other direction for positive examples. This takes the form of an academic thesis, like Blood Riteswith fifty pages of notes, bibliography and index. Ij am tempted to put both these books in the reference section ehernreich the library and only go to it when Strreets am interested in seriously exploring the topics.

These are not for bedside reading tables. I cannot celebrate Dancing in the Streets although from the catchy title I expect an enjoyable experience. But it is more represented by the serious subtitle A History of Collective Joy.

Dance with the devil

And since so much of the book is devoted to the loss or absence of festivals, we might subtitle it The Loss of Collective Joy. So, I guess, my reaction to the book really had to do with expectations. I was looking for something catchy and readable and I got a deep, serious viewpoint. I was hoping for the happy personal celebration of a sports victory of my home team but got the formal experience of the choir ehreenreich the Hallelujah Chorus.


Furthermore, she explores the collapse of paganism beginning with the rise of Christianity. The parallels between Jesus and Dionysus are striking as Ehrenreich lists them. The current conflict in the Church between speaking in tongues and patient listening, between ecstatic dancing and sedate sitting was in the front of my mind as I read this section.

To accept the course of evolution if I may use that word! It mostly does not work if one is dogmatic. Ehrenreich explores the reasons carnivals, large public parties, declined in frequency. Ehrenreich does occasionally drift off course. Sometimes the drift is interesting but only tangentially related to collective joy!

And it should be emphasized that the new concern to separate eating from excreting, and one human body from another, had nothing to do hte hygiene.

Bathing was still an infrequent, even — if indulged in too often — eccentric, practice, the knowledge that contact with others and their excreta can spread disease was still at least two centuries away. In what seems to me to be another excursion into the barely related, Ehrenreich devotes a twenty page chapter to melancholy in the s ascribing it as the 17th century version of our depression.

What does this have to do with Dancing in the Streets? Streefs the destruction of festivals did not actually cause depression, it may still be that, in abandoning their traditional festivities, people lost a potentially effective cure for it. What was the cure for melancholia in the late 16th and early 17th century? Eat, drink and be merry. Go to a festival!

Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich | Quarterly Conversation

What, you say the festivals have been excluded from the churches and banished from the countryside? I know of no attempts in our time to use festive behavior as treatment for depression, as if such an streetx is even thinkable in a modern clinical setting.

There is, however, an abundance of evidence that communal pleasures — ranging from simple festivities to ecstatic rituals — have served, in a variety of cultures, as a way of alleviating and even curing depression.

But the years of European expansionism sent somber folk out to conquer the world and end the festivities wherever they were encountered. We are still talking about loss of Dancing in the Streets.

And then — Sieg Heil! But are they experiencing joy or crowd psychology? And then we are brought to the present time when Dancing in the Streets is brought to you by rock concerts indoors and then outdoors. And the thrill of the home run or goal or basket or great play or political victory can bring a crowd to their feet in collective celebration.

We have lived this part of celebration and it brings the book to an ending where Ehrenreich ponders whether the days of carnivals will ever return with its ecstatic joy. The book has mostly related the extinction of carnival-like events over the centuries.

It is full of academic speculation and recollection.