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Dancing to a resistant imaginary: reconfiguring female (a)sexualities through Zorbitality

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-04-16, 10:19 authored by Aoife Sadlier
In the twenty-first century, asexuality has become synonymous with sexual orientation, being described as a ‘lack’ of sexual attraction. At this juncture, a study of female (a)sexualities is long overdue. Firstly, very little has been written on the topic. Secondly, with the rise of a postfeminist culture, women are often represented as desiring their own objectification, whilst the narratives of asexual-identified women are reduced to static narratives of frigidity or spiritual devotion. In response, this paper develops the concept of Zorbitality. Zorbitality is a resistant imaginary, which seeks to reconfigure female (a)sexualities through collective ecstatic motion. It harnesses the historical transformation and cultural hybridity of Afro-diasporic rhythms, to interrogate the Western thought systems that constrain women’s ecstatic movement. The paper draws on two methodologies: Deleuzian feminist cartographies and collective biography. These methodologies together speak to a posthuman concern with reaching an enhanced sense of the collective, through a focus on the affective intensity of each moment. Two dance narratives will frame the analysis: Stravinsky’s (1913) ballet, The Rite of Spring, where a sacrificial ‘virgin’ dances herself to death, and West African Yoruba dance, characterised by solo dance within a collective. These narratives will interweave in the memory of a woman called Martha, in which her solo dance within a collective evokes the uncreolised African body and enables her to experience an ethical opening to human and non-human others.


This work formed part of a PhD that was obtained in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King’s College London, in April 2017. This research was generously funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain (ESRC) from September 2013 to March 2017.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Qualitative Research in Psychology


SADLIER, A.C., 2018. Dancing to a resistant imaginary: reconfiguring female (a)sexualities through Zorbitality. Qualitative Research in Psychology, doi:10.1080/14780887.2018.1456588.


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  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Qualitative Research in Psychology on 09 Apr 2018, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2018.1456588

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