Abstract

This article problematizes the terminological apparatus put forward by Karin Barber’s paradigm-making “Popular Arts in Africa” by showing how it is interrogated by the cultural and social positioning of a Zambian literary archive from the early postcolonial period. The archive in question is the body of work published between 1964 and 1975 in the Lusaka-based journal New Writing from Zambia (NWZ), produced and circulated by members of a literary collective called the New Writers Group. The journal published poetry, short fiction, plays, essays, and book reviews in English. The following article outlines the social and literary conditions of the journal’s publication, and argues—relying in part on the methodological procedures inscribed in Barber’s later work—that these conditions were productive of a cultural and textual attitude that may be described as local cosmopolitan. It then traces how the notion of local cosmopolitanism is articulated by some fictional texts published in NWZ, especially through the manner in which these texts imagine the notion of social change central to “Popular Arts.” Key examples (drawn from the fiction published in NWZ in the late 1960s and early 1970s, of which the story “Legend of Modern Zambia” by the transnational Southern African author Bill Saidi is emblematic) are provided by readings of two strategically selected stories: Winston C. Mulalami’s “Taken for a Ride” (1969), situated in the city, and Maybin Siciliyango’s “Tazara and Dawn” (1974), set in a rural environment.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2044
Print ISSN
0034-5210
Pages
pp. 50-70
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-14
Open Access
No
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