A complicated subject, the origins of belly dancing are unknown. Its performers, while predominately female, vary greatly in nationality, ethnicity, age, context, and cultural relationship to the dance. Further, as a performance art historically depicted in a written or a two-dimensional static form, its changing style over the centuries is unknown. In short, there exists the potential for a wealth of research surrounding belly dancing covering many disciplines: history, sociology, anthropology, and Arabic studies to name a few.
The audience for this pathfinder is an academic one engaged in the study of dance ethnology-specifically, belly dance-from a number of research perspectives. The starting place for a doctoral researcher may be the start and end for an undergraduate student, but there are options for the range of research levels. Access to the UNC Chapel Hill libraries, the Duke libraries, and use of interlibrary loan services is presupposed.