"We have in this book a Rosetta stone for mediating, or translating, African musical behavior and aesthetics."—Andrew Tracey, African Music
"John Miller Chernoff, who spent 10 years studying African drumming, has a flair for descriptive writing, and his first-person narratives should be easily understood by any reader, while ringing unmistakably true for the reader who has also been to West Africa."—Roderick Knight, Washington Post Book World
"Ethnomusicologists must be proud that their discipline has produced a book that will, beyond doubt, rank as a classic of African studies."—Peter Fryer, Research in Literatures
"A marvelous book. . . . Not many scholars will ever be able to achieve the kind of synthesis of 'doing' and 'writing about' their subject matter that Chernoff has achieved, but he has given us an excellent illustration of what is possible."—Chet Creider, Culture
"Chernoff develops a brilliant and penetrating musicological essay that is, at the same time, an intensely personal and even touching account of musical and cultural discovery that anyone with an interest in Africa can and should read. . . . No other writing comes close to approaching Chernoff's ability to convey a feeling of how African music 'works'"—James Koetting, Africana Journal
"Four stars. One of the few books I know of that talks of the political, social, and spiritual meanings of music. I was moved. It was so nice I read it twice."—David Byrne of "Talking Heads"
The companion cassette tape has 44 examples of the music discussed in the book. It consists of field recordings illustrating cross-rhythms, multiple meters, call and response forms, etc.
In Cameroon, a monumental “statue of liberty” is made from scrap metal. In Congo, a thriving popular music incorporates piercing screams and carnal dances. When these and other instantiations of the aesthetics of Africa and its diasporas are taken into account, how are ideas of beauty reconfigured? Scholars and artists take up that question in this invigorating, lavishly illustrated collection, which includes more than one hundred color images. Exploring sculpture, music, fiction, food, photography, fashion, and urban design, the contributors engage with and depart from canonical aesthetic theories as they demonstrate that beauty cannot be understood apart from ugliness.
Highlighting how ideas of beauty are manifest and how they mutate, travel, and combine across time and distance, continental and diasporic writers examine the work of a Senegalese sculptor inspired by Leni Riefenstahl’s photographs of Nuba warriors; a rich Afro-Brazilian aesthetic incorporating aspects of African, Jamaican, and American cultures; and African Americans’ Africanization of the Santería movement in the United States. They consider the fraught, intricate spaces of the urban landscape in postcolonial South Africa; the intense pleasures of eating on Réunion; and the shockingly graphic images on painted plywood boards advertising “morality” plays along the streets of Ghana. And they analyze the increasingly ritualized wedding feasts in Cameroon as well as the limits of an explicitly “African” aesthetics. Two short stories by the Mozambican writer Mia Couto gesture toward what beauty might be in the context of political failure and postcolonial disillusionment. Together the essays suggest that beauty is in some sense future-oriented and that taking beauty in Africa and its diasporas seriously is a way of rekindling hope.
Contributors. Rita Barnard, Kamari Maxine Clarke, Mia Couto, Mark Gevisser, Simon Gikandi, Michelle Gilbert, Isabel Hofmeyr, William Kentridge, Dominique Malaquais, Achille Mbembe, Cheryl-Ann Michael, Celestin Monga, Sarah Nuttall, Patricia Pinho, Rodney Place, Els van der Plas, Pippa Stein, Françoise Vergès
The popularity and profile of African dance have exploded across the African diaspora in the last fifty years. Hot Feet and Social Change presents traditionalists, neo-traditionalists, and contemporary artists, teachers, and scholars telling some of the thousands of stories lived and learned by people in the field. Concentrating on eight major cities in the United States, the essays explode myths about African dance while demonstrating its power to awaken identity, self-worth, and community respect. These voices of experience share personal accounts of living African traditions, their first encounters with and ultimate embrace of dance, and what teaching African-based dance have meant to them and their communities. Throughout, the editors alert readers to established and ongoing research, and provide links to critical contributions by African and Caribbean dance experts.Contributors: Ausettua Amor Amenkum, Abby Carlozzo, Steven Cornelius, Yvonne Daniel, Charles “Chuck” Davis, Esailama G. A. Diouf, Indira Etwaroo, Habib Iddrisu, Julie B. Johnson, C. Kemal Nance, Halifu Osumare, Amaniyea Payne, William Serrano-Franklin, and Kariamu Welsh
Who invents masks, and why? Such questions have rarely been asked, due to stereotypes of anonymous African artists locked into the reproduction of "traditional" models of representation. Rather than accept this view of African art as timeless and unchanging, Z. S. Strother spent nearly three years in Zaire studying Pende sculpture. Her research reveals the rich history and lively contemporary practice of Central Pende masquerade. She describes the intensive collaboration among sculptors and dancers that is crucial to inventing masks. Sculptors revealed that a central theme in their work is the representation of perceived differences between men and women. Far from being unchanging, Pende masquerades promote unceasing innovation within genres and invention of new genres. Inventing Masks demonstrates, through first hand accounts and lavish illustrations, how Central Pende masquerading is a contemporary art form fully responsive to twentieth-century experience.
"Its presentation, its exceptionally lively style, the perfection of its illustrations make this a stunning book, perfectly fitting for the study of a performing art and its content is indeed seminal. . . . A breakthrough."—Jan Vansina, African Studies Review