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Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation


This study was conducted from April 11th 2009 to May 1st 2009 about Tanzanian traditional dance and drumming focusing specifically on the African Traditional Dance Group, ATDG, a well-established group in Arusha, Tanzania. The study aimed to gain perspectives on the role of traditional dance and drumming in Tanzania and how it is changing today in the face of westernization and globalization, and additionally to learn more about the personal histories of the artists in ATDG. Methods included participant observation, in the form of dance and drumming lessons and participation in group rehearsals, a semi-structured key informant interview, and semi-structured interviews with eleven additional artists out of a total of fifteen in the group. These eleven interviewees were non-randomly selected based on availability during the study period. Results showed that traditional dance in Tanzania plays an important role in educating society, and specifically the new generation. There was, however, a clear consensus among those interviewed, that this role is rapidly changing today. Although the key informant interview, conducted prior to the formal start of the study period, implied that traditional dance and drumming are at risk of becoming obsolete, further interviews and participation in the group revealed that opinions on this issue are variable. Several other themes were evident among respondents concerning both personal histories as well as the importance of traditional dance and drumming in Tanzanian culture.


Anthropology | Dance | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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