State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa: Enchantings

State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa: Enchantings

State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa: Enchantings

State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa: Enchantings

Synopsis

How has the state impacted culture and cultural production in Africa? How has culture challenged and transformed the state and our understandings of its nature, functions, and legitimacy? Compelled by complex realities on the ground as well as interdisciplinary scholarly debates on the state-culture dynamic, senior scholars and emerging voices examine the intersections of the state, culture, and politics in postcolonial Africa in this lively and wide-ranging volume. The coverage here is continental and topics include literature, politics, philosophy, music, religion, theatre, film, television, sports, child trafficking, journalism, city planning, and architecture. Together, the essays provide an energetic and nuanced portrait of the cultural forms of politics and the political forms of culture in contemporary Africa.

Excerpt

This book examines the broad and multisided interactions of contemporary African cultural forms and practices, and the postcolonial African state that is their generative canvas. Given the distinctive worldliness and immersive political references embodied in these cultural forms and practices, scholars have long felt the need to study them in the light of state structures and processes. This is a classic instance in which thinking across conventional disciplinary divides is more obviously and meaningfully demanded by the reality on the ground than by fanciful academic debates on campus. There is no comparable demand, however, on the study of politics in Africa to understand the cultural forms and practices that constitute the foundation of political meanings and negotiations—in short, of legitimacy. Overall, the bonds and rewards of disciplinary work are still overly tight and alluring, even if this has meant less than robust attention to our objects of study. According to the logic of our structures of training, accomplished political scientists and philosophers are not expected to be so skilled in cultural criticism, while expert cultural critics can get by with the obvious basic gestures to the political domain. This is not a condemnation of disciplinary training and work—they are and should still be foundational, given the increasing volume of information and complexity of forms, structures, and processes that we study. Very clearly, disciplinary mastery is a solid basis for meaningful interdisciplinary work.

For now, the more pragmatic and achievable plea is for a reasonable effort beyond the normative disciplinary call of duty toward the admittedly harder work of broadminded listening and unassuming but focused analytical curiosity. Charged with this ethics of attention, the contributors to this book, from across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, critically examine large and small consequential conjunctures of the postcolonial state and culture in Africa and their compound effects.

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