The Phenomenology of a Performative Knowledge System

Dancing with Native American Epistemology

  • Shay Welch

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Shay Welch
    Pages 1-29
  3. Shay Welch
    Pages 31-52
  4. Shay Welch
    Pages 91-155
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 197-215

About this book


 “This book closes an obvious gap between Native American epistemology and philosophy of dance performance, and Shay Welch is very careful and sensitive in situating herself and her own reflections on knowledge and dance in relation to the worldviews and cultures of Indigenous peoples.”
Brian Burkhart, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Oklahoma, USA

“With rich description, methodological sophistication, and analytical acuity, this book brings dance to life philosophically as a way of knowing. Welch explores the connections between Native American epistemology, embodied cognition, and social meaning to expand the resources for thinking both about what it is to know, and also how engagement with marginalized traditions can enrich our understanding of our own lives.  This is a book that anyone seeking to explore outside of the narrow paradigms of mainstream epistemology should read.”
Sally Haslanger, Ford Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

“In her distinctively iconoclastic and creative voice, Shay Welch makes a crucial contribution to social epistemology, embodiment studies, Native American philosophy, and performance studies. This bold work is a sparkling example of the philosophical value of broadening our vision to include the contributions of Native American and Indigenous thinkers and performers. Understanding dance performance as epistemic practice gives us an eye-opening new window into both.”
Rebecca Kukla, Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University, USA

This book investigates the phenomenological ways that dance choreographing and dance performance exemplify both Truth and meaning-making within Native American epistemology, from an analytic philosophical perspective. Given that within Native American communities dance is regarded both as an integral cultural conduit and “a doorway to a powerful wisdom,” Shay Welch argues that dance and dancing can both create and communicate knowledge. She explains that dance—as a form of oral, narrative storytelling—has the power to communicate knowledge of beliefs and histories, and that dance is a form of embodied narrative storytelling. Welch provides analytic clarity on how this happens, what conditions are required for it to succeed, and how dance can satisfy the relational and ethical facets of Native epistemology.  


Native American Indigenous Studies Native Epistemology Native Philosophy Embodied Metaphor Embodied cognition Procedural Knowledge Anthropology Dance Theory Performance Theory

Authors and affiliations

  • Shay Welch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesSpelman CollegeAtlantaUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-04935-5
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-04936-2
  • Buy this book on publisher's site