Journal Article

They Danced in the Bible: Identity Integration among Christian Women Who Belly Dance

Rachel Kraus

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 71, issue 4, pages 457-482
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
They Danced in the Bible: Identity Integration among Christian Women Who Belly Dance

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Christianity has expectations regarding appropriate gender roles, the body, and sexuality. Belly dance helps women creatively express themselves, move their bodies in new ways, become empowered, and feel sensual. Many Christian belly dancers also consider the dance to be spiritual. Yet, most of these women do not personally experience conflict between belly dance and Christianity. Utilizing interviews with 27 Catholic and Protestant female belly dancers, this project examines how Christian belly dancers integrate their identities derived from both worlds without experiencing conflict. Results show that along with maintaining dual roles, selectively defining religion, and separating roles, belly dancers use a new strategy that I call “setting intention” to integrate their Christianity and belly dancing. These findings illustrate how identity integration techniques are used without a history of conflict, and how people combine their identities derived from religious institutions with spiritually meaningful leisure activities that challenge some of their religion's tenets.

Keywords: identity integration; leisure; spirituality; belly dance

Journal Article.  10940 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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