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Performing Africa - Paulla A Ebron

Paperback Published: 25th August 2002
ISBN: 9780691074894
Number Of Pages: 264

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The "jali"--a member of a hereditary group of Mandinka professional performers--is a charismatic but contradictory figure. He is at once the repository of his people's history, the voice of contemporary political authority, the inspiration for African American dreams of an African homeland, and the chief entertainment for the burgeoning transnational tourist industry. Numerous journalists, scholars, politicians, and culture aficionados have tried to pin him down. This book shows how the jali's talents at performance make him a genius at representation--the ideal figure to tell us about the "Africa" that the world imagines, which is always a thing of illusion, magic, and contradiction.

Africa often enters the global imagination through news accounts of ethnic war, famine, and despotic political regimes. Those interested in countering such dystopic images--be they cultural nationalists in the African diaspora or connoisseurs of "global culture"--often found their representations of an emancipatory Africa on an enthusiasm for West African popular culture and performance arts. Based on extensive field research in The Gambia and focusing on the figure of the jali, Performing Africa interrogates these representations together with their cultural and political implications. It explores how Africa is produced, circulated, and consumed through performance and how encounters through performance create the place of Africa in the world. Innovative and discerning, Performing Africa is a provocative contribution to debates over cultural nationalism and the construction of identity and history in Africa and elsewhere.

Industry Reviews

"Performing Africa raises stimulating challenges. Very little is off limits: not nature, not gender, not sexuality, not music--and most especially not Africa as the purest locus of these things. Tackling such provocative subjects with confidence and insight, and with such impressive control over so many scholarly domains, is a major achievement."--Caroline Bledsoe, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Where and When I Enterp. vii
Performing Africap. 1
Representations/Performancesp. 29
Music: Europe and Africap. 33
Performancesp. 53
Professional Dreamsp. 73
Curators of Traditionp. 81
Personalistic Economyp. 114
Interview Encounters: The Performance of Professionp. 134
Culture as Commodityp. 163
Travel Storiesp. 167
Tourists as Pilgrimsp. 189
Codap. 213
Notesp. 217
Bibliographyp. 225
Indexp. 237
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691074894
ISBN-10: 0691074895
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 264
Published: 25th August 2002
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.38