Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Racialization, Embodiment, Exotic Dance, Lesbian

Major Advisor

Nancy A. Naples

Associate Advisor

Marysol W. Asencio

Associate Advisor

Kim Price-Glynn

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This study explores the experiences of the “Divine Dancers[1],” a Black and Puerto Rican collective of 40 women from across the United States who convene 10 to 12 times a year to plan, manage, and perform in exotic dance shows for other women. I draw on 23 months of ethnographic observations and 40 in-depth interviews with members of this collective to explore how Divine Dancers’ performance spaces, which are absent of the power dynamics of cis men and White women, enable Black and Latina women to exercise agency over the conditions of their participation in exotic dance.

My work speaks to the sociological literatures of body and embodiment (Grosz 1994, Witz 2000, Crossley 2001, Shilling 2007), race and ethnicity (Omi & Winant 1994, Puri 2016, Vidal-Ortiz 2004), and gender and sexuality (Collins 2005, Rodríguez 2014) as a theoretical intervention that starts from the embodied standpoint (Moraga 1983, Moya 1997) of Black and Latina exotic dancers (Brooks 2010, 2012). I advance an embodied approach (Khan, 2019) to racialization that reveals the intersection of the body (including such features as body size, girth, weight) and other embodied qualities (such as emotional expressions and performance) as markers of racialization (Hernandez 2009) that ultimately challenges the dominance of the U.S. Black/White racial binary (Omi & Winant 1994, Perea 1997). I center the body to show how racialized constructs relative to Blackness and Puerto Rican-ness (Landale & Oropesa 2002) become marshaled for racialized erotic capital (Brooks 2012) within the context of Divine Dancer shows, and exotic dance more broadly.

[1] Divine Dancers is a pseudonym for the actual name of the collective.

Available for download on Saturday, June 30, 2029