Indiana University Press

African Expressive Cultures

Published by: Indiana University Press

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African Expressive Cultures

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Oliver Mtukudzi

Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe

Jennifer W. Kyker

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi, a Zimbabwean guitarist, vocalist, and composer, has performed worldwide and released some 50 albums. One of a handful of artists to have a beat named after him, Mtukudzi blends Zimbabwean traditional sounds with South African township music and American gospel and soul, to compose what is known as Tuku Music. In this biography, Jennifer W. Kyker looks at Mtukudzi’s life and art, from his encounters with Rhodesian soldiers during the Zimbabwe war of liberation to his friendship with American blues artist Bonnie Raitt. With unprecedented access to Mtukudzi, Kyker breaks down his distinctive performance style using the Shona concept of "hunhu," or human identity through moral relationships, as a framework. By reading Mtukudzi's life in connection with his lyrics and the social milieu in which they were created, Kyker offers an engaging portrait of one of African music's most recognized performers. Interviews with family, friends, and band members make this a penetrating, sensitive, and uplifting biography of one of the world’s most popular musicians.

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Osogbo and the Art of Heritage

Monuments, Deities, and Money

Peter Probst

Why has the home of a Yoruba river goddess become a UNESCO World Heritage site and a global attraction? Every year, tens of thousands of people from around the world visit the sacred grove of Osun, Osogbo's guardian deity, to attend her festival. Peter Probst takes readers on a riveting journey to Osogbo. He explores the history of the Osogbo School, which helped introduce one style of African modern art to the West, and investigates its intimate connection with Osun, the role of art and religion in the changing world of Osogbo, and its prominence in the global arena.

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Performance and Politics in Tanzania

The Nation on Stage

Laura Edmondson

In Performance and Politics in Tanzania, Laura Edmondson examines how politics, social values, and gender are expressed on stage. Now a disappearing tradition, Tanzanian popular theatre integrates comic sketches, acrobatics, melodrama, song, and dance to produce lively commentaries on what it means to be Tanzanian. These dynamic shows invite improvisation and spontaneous and raucous audience participation as they explore popular sentiments. Edmondson asserts that these performances overturn the boundary between official and popular art and offer a new way of thinking about African popular culture. She discusses how the blurring of state agendas and local desires presents a charged environment for the exploration of Tanzanian political and social realities: What is the meaning of democracy and who gets to define it? Who is in power, and how is power exposed or concealed? What is the role of tradition in a postsocialist state? How will the future of the nation be negotiated? This engaging book provides important insight into the complexity of popular forms of expression during a time of political and social change in East Africa.

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The Politics of Dress in Somali Culture

Heather Marie Akou

The universal act of dressing -- shared by both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, minority and majority -- has shaped human interactions, communicated hopes and fears about the future, and embodied what it means to be Somali. Heather Marie Akou mines politics and history in this rich and compelling study of Somali material culture. Akou explores the evolution of Somali folk dress, the role of the Somali government in imposing styles of dress, competing forms of Islamic dress, and changes in Somali fashion in the U.S. With the collapse of the Somali state, Somalis continue a connection with their homeland and community through what they wear every day.

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Portraiture and Photography in Africa

Edited by John Peffer and Elisabeth L. Cameron

Beautifully illustrated, Portrait Photography in Africa offers new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa. Twelve leading scholars look at early photographs, important photographers’ studios, the uses of portraiture in the 19th century, and the current passion for portraits in Africa. They review a variety of topics, including what defines a common culture of photography, the social and political implications of changing technologies for portraiture, and the lasting effects of culture on the idea of the person depicted in the photographic image.

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Postcolonial Artists and Global Aesthetics

Akin Adesokan

What happens when social and political processes such as globalization shape cultural production? Drawing on a range of writers and filmmakers from Africa and elsewhere, Akin Adesokan explores the forces at work in the production and circulation of culture in a globalized world. He tackles problems such as artistic representation in the era of decolonization, the uneven development of aesthetics across the world, and the impact of location and commodity culture on genres, with a distinctive approach that exposes the global processes transforming cultural forms.

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Sonic Space in Djibril Diop Mambety's Films

Vlad Dima

The art of Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety’s cinema lies in the tension created between the visual narrative and the aural narrative. His work has been considered hugely influential, and his films bridge Western practices of filmmaking and oral traditions from West Africa. Mambety’s film Touki Bouki is considered one of the foundational works of African cinema. Vlad Dima proposes a new reading of Mambety’s entire filmography from the perspective of sound. Following recent analytical patterns in film studies that challenge the primacy of the visual, Dima claims that Mambety uses voices, noise, and silence as narrative tools that generate their own stories and sonic spaces. By turning an ear to cinema, Dima pushes African aesthetics to the foreground of artistic creativity and focuses on the critical importance of sound in world cinema.

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Spiders of the Market

Ghanaian Trickster Performance in a Web of Neoliberalism

David Afriyie Donkor

The Ghanaian trickster-spider, Ananse, is a deceptive figure full of comic delight who blurs the lines of class, politics, and morality. David Afriyie Donkor identifies social performance as a way to understand trickster behavior within the shifting process of political legitimization in Ghana, revealing stories that exploit the social ideologies of economic neoliberalism and political democratization. At the level of policy, neither ideology was completely successful, but Donkor shows how the Ghanaian government was crafty in selling the ideas to the people, adapting trickster-rooted performance techniques to reinterpret citizenship and the common good. Trickster performers rebelled against this takeover of their art and sought new ways to out trick the tricksters.

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Swahili Port Cities

The Architecture of Elsewhere

Prita Meier

On the Swahili coast of East Africa, monumental stone houses, tombs, and mosques mark the border zone between the interior of the African continent and the Indian Ocean. Prita Meier explores this coastal environment and shows how an African mercantile society created a place of cosmopolitan longing. Meier understands architecture as more than a way to remake local space. Rather, the architecture of this liminal zone was an expression of the desire of coastal inhabitants to belong to places beyond their homeports. Here architecture embodies modern ideas and social identities engendered by the encounter of Africans with others in the Indian Ocean world.

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Tabloid Journalism in South Africa

True Story!

Herman Wasserman

Less than a decade after the advent of democracy in South Africa, tabloid newspapers have taken the country by storm. One of these papers -- the Daily Sun -- is now the largest in the country, but it has generated controversy for its perceived lack of respect for privacy, brazen sexual content, and unrestrained truth-stretching. Herman Wasserman examines the success of tabloid journalism in South Africa at a time when global print media are in decline. He considers the social significance of the tabloids and how they play a role in integrating readers and their daily struggles with the political and social sphere of the new democracy. Wasserman shows how these papers have found an important niche in popular and civic culture largely ignored by the mainstream media and formal political channels.

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