Books Received

The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online), March 2011 | Go to article overview
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Books Received


Parsons, Neil. Clicko: The Wild Dancing Bushman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-226-64742-5, pp.254.

During the 1920s and '30s, Franz Taibosh (Clicko) performed in front of millions as one of the stars of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Prior to his fame in the United States, Taibosh toured the world as the "Wild Dancing Bushman." In this work the author unearths the untold story of Taibosh's journey from boyhood on a small farm in South Africa to top billing as one of the travelling World's Fair Freaks. Through Taibosh's tale, the author brings to life the bizarre golden age of entertainment as well as the role that the dubious new science of race played in it. Equal parts entertaining and disturbing, Clicko vividly evokes a forgotten era when vaudeville drew massive crowds and circus freaks were featured in Billboard and Variety. Thus, the author gives us an unforgettable portrait of Franz Taibosh, rescued from racists and romantic notions to a person with an extraordinary life.

Andrews, George Reid. Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-9078-3417-6, pp.241.

Uruguay is not conventionally thought of as part of the African diaspora, yet during the period of Spanish colonial rule, thousands of enslaved Africans arrived in the country. Thus, Afro-Uruguayans played important roles in Uruguay's national life, creating the second-largest Black press in Latin America, a racially defined political party, and numerous social and civic organizations. Afro-Uruguayans were also central participants in the creation of Uruguayan popular culture and the country's principal musical forms, tango and candombe. Candombe, a style of African-inflected music, is one of the defining features of the nation's culture, embraced equally by white and black citizens. In this book the author offers a comprehensive history of Afro- Uruguayans from the colonial period to the present. Showing how social and political mobilization is intertwined with candombe, hence, he traces the development of Afro-Uruguayan racial discourse and argues that candombe's evolution as a central part of the nation's culture has not fundamentally helped the cause of racial equality. Incorporating lively descriptions of his own experiences as a member of a candombe drumming and performance group, he consistently connects the struggles of Afro-Uruguayans to the broader issues of race, culture, gender, and politics throughout Latin America and the African diaspora generally.

Collins, Walter P., ed. Emerging African Voices: A Study of Contemporary African Literature. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-60497-664-9, pp.335.

This volume offers a general analysis and critical evaluation of the work of new writers in order to showcase their contribution to the body of African literature. It examines nine contemporary writers whose works (written almost entirely in the colonial languages of English and French) update and refocus African literature for the new century. The writers whose works are under discussion tackle some of the long-standing difficulties of the colonial project-assimilation, Manicheanism, and othering-in new ways while exposing the challenges and dysfunctions of a locale affected by globalization.

Hence, this book is a compendium of literary scholarship offering an assessment of the literary endeavors of the latest generation of select African writers. There exists an abundance of deft scholarship and critical analyses, even in the most recent publications by African and Western theorists, of the works of recognized African authors. However, it is sometimes difficult to access a variety of criticism for some more recent writers, those born just before, at, or just after the independence of many African nations. During the last 60 years, African literature has been dynamically shaped by African history, especially the colonial exploits of Western nations.

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