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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Since its emergence among Spanish-speaking immigrants in New York City in the 1960s, salsa dance (and music) has become a quintessential symbol of Latin identity in and outside of the United States. The worldwide adoption of the dance has opened up new possibilities for identity construction. Using field research from Accra, Ghana, this chapter explores the ways in which salsa dance has come to inform a pan-African identity, creating moments where local ethnicities become deemphasized. “Traditional” dances in Ghana have historically been viewed as reflecting local “tribal” and/or ethnic identities and later appropriated by national dance companies as a way to construct and display a Ghanaian “national culture.” However, the adoption of salsa dance in Ghana is what I call an “inventive dance tradition,” one not espoused by colonial administrators or postcolonial leaders, but pioneered by a new generation of urban youth with more global agendas.

Keywords: salsa, dance, Ghana, pan-African identity, ethnicities, inventive dance tradition, urban youth

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