Postgraduate Course: African Popular Culture (PGSP11322)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
||Availability||Available to all students
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
|Home subject area||Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)
||Other subject area||None
||Taught in Gaelic?||No
|Course description||The aim of this course is to introduce students to some of the most significant aspects of popular culture in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa. Manifestations of popular culture are considered as markers of modern African identities, embedded in complex and varied socio-cultural, -historical and -political contexts. Within the current era of globalisation and the transnational exchange of knowledge and information, it is neither sufficient any longer to view Africa solely from a "development discourse" perspective, nor to discuss contemporary African culture within the tradition-versus-modernity debate. Manifestations of popular culture in Africa show that the continent is part and parcel of the "modern world", with cultural production simultaneously influenced by global trends and specific African contexts.
The course will cover various forms of cultural expression and genres, including popular film, music, dance, comics and cartoons, fashion, sport, street art, theatre, and contemporary visual arts. Attention will be paid to the production modes, audiences and sites of consumption of these different genres and aspects of popular culture. Course instruction will include extensive film and clip viewings, analysis of music, and reading fictional texts such as graphic novels and comics. For the course assessment students will conduct research into any relevant topic of their choice.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?||No
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
|On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. By the end of the course students should be able to:
- Define and describe popular culture as manifestations of modern African identities
- Discuss African popular culture in the context of globalisation, intertextuality and interdisciplinarity
- Discuss audiences, sites and modes of consumption of African popular culture
- Discuss modes of production of African popular culture
- Identify and describe central themes, styles and narratives within African popular culture
- Discuss the relationship between popular culture and youth culture in sub-Saharan Africa
- Describe African popular culture in relation to political activism, social resistance, peace-building and awareness-raising
- Discuss the interface between popular culture and the recent neo- and post-colonial histories of African countries
- Describe and discuss the relationship between African traditional culture and popular culture
- Synthesise their critical understanding of African popular culture through individual research resulting in a 4,000-word essay on a relevant topic of their choice
2. Knowledge and understanding:
- Knowledge that covers and integrates most, if not all, of the main areas of a subject discipline - including their features, boundaries, terminology and conventions.
- A critical understanding of the principal theories, principles and concepts.
- A critical understanding of a range of specialised theories, principles and concepts.
- Extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding in one or more specialisms, much of which is at, or informed by, developments at the forefront.
- A critical awareness of current issues in a subject/discipline and one or more specialisms.
|One 4,000-word essay.|
||Week 1: Introduction to African Popular Culture
- What is popular culture?
- Popular culture as manifestations of contemporary African identities
- Questioning the myth of the "tradition-versus-modernity conflict" in African societies
- Globalisation, hybridisation, intertextuality and interdisciplinarity in the field of African Cultural Studies
- Karin Barber. "Introduction." In: Karin Barber. 1997. Readings in African Popular Culture.
- Johannes Fabian. "Popular Culture in Africa: Findings & Conjectures." In: Karin Barber. 1997. Readings in African Popular Culture.
Week 2: Popular Film
- The video-film industries in Africa: Ghanaian video-films, Nollywood and its followers (Bongowood, Tanzania, Riverwood, Kenya, Ugawood, Uganda)
- Production processes
- Spectatorship, audiences and sites of consumption
- Central themes and narratives
- A number of video-films from different African countries will be made available for viewing
- Pierre Barrot (ed). 2005. Nollywood: The Video Phenomenon in Nigeria.
- Birgit Meyer. "Ghanaian Popular Video Movies between State Film Policies and Nollywood: Discourses and Tensions". In: Mahir Saul & Ralph A. Austen. 2010. Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution.
- Matthias Krings. "Nollywood Goes East: The Localization of Nigerian Video Films in Tanzania." In: Mahir Saul & Ralph A. Austen. 2010. Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century: Art Films and the Nollywood Video Revolution.
Week 3: Music
- Popular music and youth culture in Africa: hip-hop, rap, kwaito and its political dimensions
- New fusions of traditional music and Western influences: Youssou NżDour and Mbalax (Senegal/Gambia)
- Popular music and activism: Fela Kuti and the Afrobeat revolution
Music listening and clip viewing:
- Students will listen to several musical tracks (paying attention to lyrics and rhythms) and watch music videos on youtube/vimeo in advance of and during the lecture.
- Franck Tenaiile. 2002. Music is the Weapon of the Future: Fifty Years of African Popular Music.
- Albert Oikelome. "Hip Hop Lyrics as Tool for Conflict Resolution in the Niger Delta." In: Lizelle Bisschoff & Stefanie Van de Peer (eds). 2012. Art and Trauma in Africa: Representations of Reconciliation in Music, Visual Arts, Literature and Film.
- Alex Perullo. 2011. Live from Dar es Salaam: Popular Music and Tanzania's Music Economy.
Week 4: Dance
- Contemporary African dance as a fusion of styles, genres and influences
- Popular dance as a tool to interpret and comment on history: Angolan kuduro
Clip and film viewings:
- A number of documentaries on contemporary African dance will be made available for viewing and students will be encouraged to watch dance clips on vimeo/youtube (especially kuduro).
- Kariamu Welsh Asante. 1997. African Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.
- Stefanie Alisch and Nadine Siegert. "Grooving on Broken: Dancing War Trauma in Angolan Kuduro." In: Lizelle Bisschoff & Stefanie Van de Peer (eds). 2012. Art and Trauma in Africa: Representations of Reconciliation in Music, Visual Arts, Literature and Film.
*Students briefly present their essay topics*
Week 5: Comics and cartoons
- Political cartooning as satire and subversion: critiquing neo-colonialism and subverting colonial representations
- Comics and graphic novels as a reflection of urban landscapes and identities
- Anne-line Hannesen. 2011. Bitterkomix: A South African Comics as an Indigenous Ethnography.
- Andy Mason. 2011. What's So Funny?: Under the Skin of South African Cartooning.
- Achille Mbembe. "The 'Thing' & its Doubles in Cameroonian Cartoons." In: Karin Barber. 1997. Readings in African Popular Culture.
- Marguerite Abouet & Clment Oubrerie. 2009. Aya of Yop City. (Comic)
- J.P. Stassen. 2006. Deogratias, A Tale of Rwanda. (Graphic novel)
*Students briefly present their essay topics*
Week 6: Fashion
- Street fashion: Alternative clothing styles and youth culture - "Geek chic", hip hop, the Congolese Sapeurs
- African wax prints: the global economy of production
- Meaningful fashion: patterns, imagery and slogans on African fabrics
- Suzanne Gott & Kristyne Loughran (eds). 2010. Contemporary African Fashion.
- Helen Jennings. 2011. New African Fashion.
- Elisabeth Linnebuhr. "Kanga: Popular Cloths with Messages." In: Karin Barber. 1997. Readings in African Popular Culture.
Week 7: Sport
- Development through football
- Football, fandom and collective identities
- Sport and reconciliation
- John Nauright. 2010. Long Run to Freedom: Sport, Cultures and Identities in South Africa.
- Gary Armstrong & Richard Giulianotti (eds). 2004. Football in Africa: Conflict, Conciliation and Community.
- John Bale & Mike Cronin (eds). 2003. Sport and Postcolonialism.
- K.S. Schimmel, C. L. Harrington, et al. 2007. "Keep Your Fans to Yourself: The Disjuncture between Sport Studies' and Pop Culture Studies' Perspectives on Fandom." In: Sport in Society 10(4): 580-600.
*4,000-word essay due*
Students write on any relevant topic of their choice as discussed with and approved by the course convener in advance
Week 8: Street art
- Street art, graffiti and murals as popular expression and resistance
- Street art for awareness-raising, social change and urban rejuvenation
- Posters and slogans on public transport as expressions of religious and social identities
- Nicholas Ganz. 2004. Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents.
- Nicholas Ganz. 2006. Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents.
- Olatunde Bayo Lawuyi. "The World of the Yoruba Taxi Driver: An Interpretative Approach to Vehicle Slogans." In: Karin Barber. 1997. Readings in African Popular Culture.
Week 9: Theatre
- Yoruba travelling theatre and its influence on contemporary culture
- Street theatre and theatre for development
- Orality and performance in Africa: masquerades, rituals, trance and possession, musical performances, comic and satiric sketches, dance theatre
- Video recordings of theatre productions will be made available for viewing
- Bhekizizwe Peterson. 2000. Monarchs, Missionaries and African Intellectuals: African Theatre and the Unmaking of Colonial Marginality.
- Kamal Salhi & Nguigi Wa Thiong'o (eds). 1998. African Theatre for Development: Art for Self-determination.
- David Kerr. 1995. African Popular Theatre: From Precolonial Times to the Present Day.
Week 10: Visual arts:
- Contemporary African art as straddling "high culture" and "pop culture"
- Recyclia and contemporary sculpture in Africa
- African photography beyond National Geographic
- Beyond the tourist curios: Popular painting such as Tinga Tinga (Tanzania)
- Amy Schwartzott. "Transforming Arms into Ploughshares: Weapons that Destroy and Heal in Mozambican Urban Art." In: Lizelle Bisschoff & Stefanie Van de Peer (eds). 2012. Art and Trauma in Africa: Representations of Reconciliation in Music, Visual Arts, Literature and Film.
- Zoya Kocur. 2011. Global Visual Cultures: An Anthology.
- Sidney Littlefield Kasfir. 2000. Contemporary African Art.
||10 x 2-hour seminar sessions.
|Course organiser||Dr Lizelle Bisschoff
Tel: (0131 6)50 4069
|Course secretary||Miss Lindsay Hunter
Tel: (0131 6)51 1659