Contributing to discourses on cultural nationalism, the postcolonial African state, and national dance, this article explores the politics of “managing” culture in West Africa by showing how members of Ghana’s two state dance ensembles mediate the surrounding disciplinary machinery to create possibilities for “self-improvement.” Initially, this discussion elucidates the processes by which national performers become “soldiers of culture” as their bodies and characters are trained and retrained with rigorous militaristic precision. Subsequently, it highlights performers’ artistry, examining how they tactically circumvent—or dance in between—this disciplinary apparatus, harnessing state institutions for personal ends. While taking advantage of the ensembles’ alternative education to develop artistic, social, and entrepreneurial skills, performers are also shown to ironically use these troupes as platforms to reproach their state/employer.


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pp. 2-33
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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