Tango and the Dancing Body in Istanbul  book cover
1st Edition

Tango and the Dancing Body in Istanbul

ISBN 9781032011332
Published November 22, 2021 by Routledge
196 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Tango and the Dancing Body in Istanbul explores the expansion of social Argentine tango dancing among Muslim actors in Turkey, pioneered in Istanbul despite the conservative rule of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) and Tayyip Erdoğan.

In this book, Melin Levent Yuna questions why a dance that appears to publicly represent an erotic relationship finds space to expand and increase dramatically in the number of contemporary Turkish Muslim tango dancers, particularly during a conservative rule. Even during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, tango dance classes, gatherings, and messages flourished on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Zoom. Urban Turkey and its tango dance performances provide one symbol and example of how neoliberal capitalism could go hand in hand with conservatism by becoming a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. This study largely focuses on the dancers’ perspective while presenting the policies of Erdoğan. It presents the social characteristics of the tango dancers, the meanings they attach to their bodies and their dance as well as what this dance reflects about them – besides the policies of the Justice and Development Party. The book approaches the tango dance and its dancing body in terms of layers of meaning systems in a neoliberal and conservative context.

This study will be of great interest to students and scholars in dance, anthropology, cultural studies, and performance studies.

Table of Contents



I  Concepts and tools: Contemporary self, identity, class, and more

A Reintroduction

II  Leisure, consumption, and class – One mode of being an upper-middle class

III  Becoming the conteporary tango dancer: Bailemos el Tango

IV  One mode of being an upper – middle class in Istanbul – Bodies, self, and the attached meanings, Part I

V  Bodies, self, and the attached meanings, Part II

VI  Bodies, self, and the attached meanings, Part III



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Melin Levent Yuna is a sociologist and a cultural anthropologist at Acıbadem University, teaching various classes on these areas. In addition to her MA in sociology and PhD in cultural anthropology, she is a tango dancer herself, and has had a deep interest in Argentine tango dancing for many years.