About Cécile Feza Bushidi

New York, New York

Cécile Feza Bushidi (CBA ’22 and ’19) is a historian. Her research and teaching interests focus on dance, performance, society, and politics in the history of East, Central East and Central Africa, particularly in relation to Indigenous political cultures, Christian missionaries, and visual and material cultures. Her intellectual interests cover African Diaspora history, Black Studies, global history, dance history, art history and performance theory. She has held fellowships and/or has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at Yale University, the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts, the University of Cambridge, and the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. She is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she earned a Ph.D in History in 2017. Cécile has had a 15-year-long career in the performing arts, and, during this time, she danced with Charleroi Danses/Plan K, Pál Frenák/Lakoma, Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, and she has worked with Freddie Opoku Addiae and Douglas Thorpe. You can read her work in the following volumes and special editions: “Dance in Africa and beyond: Creativity and Identity in a globalised world”, Critical African Studies, Volume 11, 2019, edited by Hélène Neveu Kringelbach and Carine Plancke; Anxiety in and about Africa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Approaches (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2020), edited by Andrea Grant and Yolana Pringle; Shades of Benga: the History of Popular Music in Kenya, 1946-2016 (Nairobi: Ketebul Music, 2017), edited by Bill Odidi and Tabu Osusa; The Oxford Handbook of Black Dance Studies (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2022), edited by Thomas F. DeFrantz;  Social Worlds of Dancing (Manchester: Manchester University Press, forthcoming, 2022), edited by Klaus Nothaus and James Nott. Cécile is writing her first book, Colonial Interplays: Dance, Culture and Politics in colonial Kikuyuland, 1880-1963.

Colonial Interplays: Dance, Culture and Politics in colonial Kikuyuland, 1880-1963
Colonial Interplay argues that dance has been an integral component in the transformation, reinvention, and assertion of African and colonial identities. In adopting this approach, the book presents Gĩkũyũ corporeality as a reflection of complex interactions involving both those exercising colonial power and those subject to it, with the aim of transcending a simplistic vision of dance as a vehicle of change and self-fashioning primarily affecting the African peoples. In the process, it inquires into the centrality of dance in shaping colonial governance.

Cécile Feza Bushidi first joined The Center as a Resident Fellow in 2019. She worked on a monograph for her first book, Colonial Interplays: Dance, Culture and Politics in colonial Kikuyuland, 1880-1963.