Body Image and the Ambivalence of Sugar as Heritage Among Cuban Dancers



dance, sugar, heritage, foodways, body image, Cuba


The article looks at vernacular understandings of sugar as Cuban heritage in light of ongoing processes of westernization of Cuban foodways and body image. In doing so, I employ the notion of ‘agnostic heritage’ (Brumann, 2014) and the proposition of a ‘third historicity.’ The latter term includes the analysis of people’s heritage experiences and beliefs, focusing on changes in local understandings of sugar as heritage, its ambivalence, and, at times, even stigmatization in relation to newly emerging canons and ideals governing body image. This article is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted among female dancers in Havana’s private schools over the course of approximately ten months from 2015 to 2018.

Author Biography

Ruxandra Ana, University of Warsaw (Poland)

PhD student at Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw , Poland.

Her main research interests: dance anthropology and tourism anthropology, intangible cultural heritage, race and tourism in postcolonial contexts, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.


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