9. Conclusion


With the heightened market economy, the terms of belly dancers’ stigmatization have changed as well. While the privileged dancers can negotiate their modesty and/or ethnicity with wealth as well as reputation in secular elite circles, the majority of performers without means face multi-tiered marginalization as ethnic, sexualized, and lower-class bodies. At the macro level, both Islamist and secular governments partake in liberal policies that heavily rely on and profit from post-1980s orientalist tourism in general, and belly dance in particular. Although belly dancers are the engines of a lucrative urban and national industry, secular nationalists shun them as bearers of ethnic/ cultural impurity and the Islamists morally condemn their suggestive public mobility and, hence, unredeemable immodesty. As in the past, professional belly dancers of Istanbul continue to remain vulnerable to shifting state regulations and social sanctions at large.

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