Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama

Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama

Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama

Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama

Synopsis

This original work redefines and broadens our understanding of the drama of the English-speaking African diaspora. Looking closely at the work of Amiri Baraka, Nobel prize-winners Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott, and Ntozake Shange, the author contends that the refashioning of the collective cultural self in black drama originates from the complex intersection of three discourses: Eurocentric, Afrocentric, and Post-Afrocentric. From blackface minstrelsy to the Trinidad Carnival, from the Black Aesthetic to the South African Black Consciousness theatres and the scholarly debate on the (non)existence of African drama, Olaniyan cogently maps the terrains of a cultural struggle and underscores a peculiar situation in which the inferiorization of black performance forms is most often a shorthand for subordinating black culture and corporeality. Drawing on insights from contemporary theory and cultural studies, and offering detailed readings of the above writers, Olaniyan shows how they occupy the interface between the Afrocentric and a liberating Post-Afrocentric space where black theatrical-cultural difference could be envisioned as a site of multiple articulations: race, class, gender, genre, and language.

Excerpt

Ralph Ellison once said that "it is not culture which binds the peoples who are of partially African origin now scattered throughout the world, but an identity of passions." With repetitive urgency, Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian poet and playwright and Nobel laureate, never ceases to emphasize the cultural particularity of his dramaturgy: its source in the "African worldview." The South African Black Consciousness theater, both in its early days and in its later offshoots, was preoccupied with self-definition as a cultural arm of the struggle against apartheid. The late 1960s and early 1970s black activist theater in the United States flaunted new myths, songs, symbols, and values, presenting itself as a "post‐ American form" categorically asserting African-American cultural autonomy. Caribbean dramatists have been no less preoccupied with defining an identifiable cultural matrix for their work. Derek Walcott, St. Lucian poet and dramatist, another Nobelist, after facing a series of dead‐ ends—the impossibility of being Marlowe's heir in spite of his mastery of Western forms, the difficulties of an unproblematic look to Africa for succor, and the new Caribbean nation-states' corruption of viable folk forms—finally settles for "using old names anew," a strategy he sees as apt for the "hybrid" West Indies. This study investigates this dominant preoccupation with the refashioning of the cultural self in the drama of English-speaking peoples of African origin cross-culturally and cross‐ continentally. The euphoria over political decolonization in the erstwhile colonies subsided quickly to the sobering realization of unabated cultural . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.