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Area and Ethnic Studies > African Studies

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Contemporary African Fashion Cover

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Contemporary African Fashion

Edited by Suzanne Gott and Kristyne Loughran. Foreword by Joanne B. Eicher

African fashion is as diverse and dynamic as the continent and the people who live there. While experts have long recognized the importance of clothing as a marker of ethnic identity, life stages, political affiliation, and social class, they have only just begun to discover African fashion. Contemporary African Fashion puts Africa at the intersection of world cultures and globalized identities, displaying the powerful creative force and impact of newly emerging styles. Richly illustrated with color photographs, this book showcases haute couture for the African continent. The visual impact of fashion created and worn today in Africa comes to life here, beautifully and brilliantly.

The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here Cover

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The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here

Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana

Boatema Boateng

In Ghana, adinkra and kente textiles derive their significance from their association with both Asante and Ghanaian cultural nationalism. Adinkra, made by stenciling patterns with black dye, and kente, a type of strip weaving, each convey, through color, style, and adornment, the bearer’s identity, social status, and even emotional state. Yet both textiles have been widely mass-produced outside Ghana, particularly in East Asia, without any compensation to the originators of the designs.

In The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here, Boatema Boateng focuses on the appropriation and protection of adinkra and kente cloth in order to examine the broader implications of the use of intellectual property law to preserve folklore and other traditional forms of knowledge. Boateng investigates the compatibility of indigenous practices of authorship and ownership with those established under intellectual property law, considering the ways in which both are responses to the changing social and historical conditions of decolonization and globalization. Comparing textiles to the more secure copyright protection that Ghanaian musicians enjoy under Ghanaian copyright law, she demonstrates that different forms of social, cultural, and legal capital are treated differently under intellectual property law.

Boateng then moves beyond Africa, expanding her analysis to the influence of cultural nationalism among the diaspora, particularly in the United States, on the appropriation of Ghanaian and other African cultures for global markets. Boateng’s rich ethnography brings to the surface difficult challenges to the international regulation of both contemporary and traditional concepts of intellectual property, and questions whether it can even be done.

Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660 Cover

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Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560–1660

Avner Ben-Zaken

Avner Ben-Zaken reconsiders the fundamental question of how early modern scientific thought traveled between Western and Eastern cultures in the age of the so-called Scientific Revolution. Through five meticulously researched case studies—in which he explores how a single obscure object or text moved in the Eastern world—Ben-Zaken reveals the intricate ways that scientific knowledge moved across cultures. His diligent exploration traces the eastward flow of post-Copernican cosmologies and scientific discoveries, showing how these ideas were disseminated, modified, and applied to local cultures. Never before has a student of scientific traffic in the Mediterranean taken such pains to see precisely which instruments, books, and ideas first appeared where, in whose hands, by what means, and with what implications. In doing so, Ben-Zaken challenges accepted views of Western primacy in this fruitful exchange. He shows not only how Islamic cultures benefited from European scientific knowledge but also how Eastern understanding of classical Greek texts informed developments in the West. Ben-Zaken’s mastery of different cultures and languages uniquely positions him to tell this intriguing story. His findings reshape our understanding of scientific discourse in this critical period and contribute to the growing field of cross-cultural Christian-Muslim studies.

Cry my Beloved Africa Cover

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Cry my Beloved Africa

Essays on the Postcolonial Aura in Africa

Cry My Beloved Africa is a compendium of essays having as locus the continent of Africa. It comprises insightful observations on the politics, governmental systems, political economy, cultural practices, educational systems and natural phenomena that impact on the lives of Africans. True to the tradition of French novelist Stendhal, the author intends this work to serve as a mirror that reflects the day-to-day living of the different peoples that inhabit the fifty-three nation-states in Africa. It is directed to contemporary Africa and to the relationship between Africa and the rest of the globe. The didactic value of the book resides in its suitability to the young and the old. The language is clear and free of sophistry.

Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development Cover

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Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development

Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965 - 2007

Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman

Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi River, built in the early 1970s during the final years of Portuguese rule, was the last major infrastructure project constructed in Africa during the turbulent era of decolonization. Engineers and hydrologists praised the dam for its technical complexity and the skills required to construct what was then the world’s fifth-largest mega-dam. Portuguese colonial officials cited benefits they expected from the dam — from expansion of irrigated farming and European settlement, to improved transportation throughout the Zambezi River Valley, to reduced flooding in this area of unpredictable rainfall. “The project, however, actually resulted in cascading layers of human displacement, violence, and environmental destruction. Its electricity benefited few Mozambicans, even after the former guerrillas of FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) came to power; instead, it fed industrialization in apartheid South Africa.” (Richard Roberts)

This in-depth study of the region examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.

A Dance of Assassins Cover

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A Dance of Assassins

Performing Early Colonial Hegemony in the Congo

Allen F. Roberts

A Dance of Assassins presents the competing histories of how Congolese Chief Lusinga and Belgian Lieutenant Storms engaged in a deadly clash while striving to establish hegemony along the southwestern shores of Lake Tanganyika in the 1880s. While Lusinga participated in the east African slave trade, Storms' secret mandate was to meet Henry Stanley's eastward march and trace "a white line across the Dark Continent" to legitimize King Leopold's audacious claim to the Congo. Confrontation was inevitable, and Lusinga lost his head. His skull became the subject of a sinister evolutionary treatise, while his ancestral figure is now considered a treasure of the Royal Museum for Central Africa. Allen F. Roberts reveals the theatricality of early colonial encounter and how it continues to influence Congolese and Belgian understandings of history today.

Dar es Salaam. Histories from an Emerging African Metropolis Cover

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Dar es Salaam. Histories from an Emerging African Metropolis

From its modest beginnings in the mid-19th century, Dar es Salaam has grown to become one of sub-Saharan Africa?s most important urban centres. A major political, economic and cultural hub, the city stood at the cutting edge of trends that transformed twentieth-century East Africa. Dar es Salaam has recently attracted the attention of a diverse, multi-disciplinary, range of scholars, making it currently one of the continent?s most studied urban centres. This collection from eleven scholars from Africa, Europe, North America and Japan, draws on some of the best of this scholarship and offers a comprehensive, and accessible, survey of the city?s development. The perspectives include history, musicology, ethnomusicology, culture including popular culture, land and urban economics. The opening chapter offers a comprehensive overview of the history of the city. Subsequent chapters examine Dar es Salaam?s twentieth century experience through the prism of social change and the administrative repercussions of rapid urbanisation; and through popular culture and shifting social relations. The book will be of interest not only to the specialist in urban studies but also to the general reader with an interest in Dar es Salaam?s environmental, social and cultural history.

The Deaf-Mute Boy Cover

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The Deaf-Mute Boy

Joseph Geraci

The Deaf-Mute Boy—equal parts travel story, love story, and a resonant confrontation with the Muslim world—is the tale of a gay American professor immersed in a North African society. Maurice Burke, an archaeologist, is invited to speak at a conference in the bustling port town of Sousse, Tunisia. At first disillusioned by its rampant tourism and squalid commercialism, Maurice becomes intrigued by his surroundings after meeting a local deaf-mute boy. While exploring a vibrant souk, Maurice encounters a religious leader who guides him on a fateful introduction to the boy’s family. As Maurice’s involvement with the deaf-mute boy intensifies, he finds himself drawn into a maze of Tunisian politics, culture, and religion.

Death, Belief and Politics in Central African History Cover

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Death, Belief and Politics in Central African History

In this set of essays Walima T. Kalusa and Megan Vaughan explore themes in the history of death in Zambia and Malawi from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Drawing on extensive archival and oral historical research they examine the impact of Christianity on spiritual beliefs, the racialised politics of death on the colonial Copperbelt, the transformation of burial practices, the histories of suicide and of maternal mortality, and the political life of the corpse.

Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana Cover

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Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana

Julie Livingston

In the rush to development in Botswana, and Africa more generally, changes in work, diet, and medical care have resulted in escalating experiences of chronic illness, debilitating disease, and accident. Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana documents how transformations wrought by colonialism, independence, industrialization, and development have effected changes in bodily life and perceptions of health, illness, and debility. In this intimate and powerful book, Julie Livingston explores the lives of debilitated persons, their caregivers, the medical and social networks of caring, and methods that communities have adopted for promoting well-being. Livingston traces how Tswana medical thought and practice have become intertwined with Western bio-medical ideas and techniques. By focusing on experiences and meanings of illness and bodily misfortune, Livingston sheds light on the complexities of the current HIV/AIDS epidemic and places it in context with a long and complex history of impairment and debility. This book presents practical and thoughtful responses to physical misfortune and offers an understanding of the complex dynamic between social change and suffering.

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