206 Chapters
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2 Nubia in Paris: African Style in French Fashion

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

Our natives, adopting the manners and habits of Europeans, are beginning more and more, especially in important urban centers, to dress in the European manner—in short, to follow our fashions.

—“La soie artificielle et nos colonies,” pamphlet promoting the French Syndicate of Artificial Textile Manufacturers, Exposition Coloniale Internationale, Paris, 1931

It seems to us that [these African fabrics] can provide, each and every one, useful sources of inspiration. In every era, designers have turned to the Orient to revitalize their enthusiasm. Didn’t Rabelais write (after Pliny): ‘There is always something new out of Africa’?

—Henri Clouzot, Tissus Nègres, Paris, 1931

Far from Mali’s Inland Niger Delta, European dress innovators have produced garments we might call African-esque fashion, part of a long history of European involvement with both real and imagined Africas. Just as the dress innovators who produced distinctive styles of Malian embroidery incorporated forms rooted in North Africa or South Asia, so too have European designers sought inspiration beyond the familiar. Although Malian migrant laborers and pious embroiderers may seem a world away from Parisian fashion designers, all are driven by the same impulse to create dress styles that reflect changing influences and new ideas. Both during and after the colonial era, Africa has been a key source of imagery, drawn from actual African forms or from Western imaginings of Africa. These designers’ “Africanisms” are an important element of the story of African fashion, for they both reflect and actively shape the perceptions—and misperceptions—that undergird representations of Africa in international contexts. This construction of an imagined Africa through dress continues into the present, maintaining surprising consistency across decades of political and cultural change. Thus, these invented Africas contribute an important subplot to the story of African fashion.

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TWO Veiling without Veils: Modesty and Reserve in Tuareg Cultural Encounters • SUSAN J. RASMUSSEN

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

In this chapter, I analyze the power and vulnerability of a gendered cultural value that not only involves the literal wearing of veils, but also incorporates a more general respect, shame, and modesty, called takarakit in Tamajaq, the local Berber (Amazigh) language of the Tuareg residing in oases and towns of Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya, and Burkina Faso. This concept conveys several related yet distinct sentiments or attitudes. Most Tuareg are Muslim, semi-sedentarized, socially stratified, and until recently, predominantly rural and nomadic, but now semi-nomadic.1 Local mores permit much free social interaction between the sexes, and most women enjoy high social prestige, can independently own property, and are not secluded or veiled; rather, it is men who are veiled. During evening festivals, social occasions, and courtship between the sexes, takarakit and “veiled” sentiments with indirect expression are traditionally encouraged, albeit with some social license. In the pre-colonial stratified, endogamous social system, persons who were forbidden to marry were allowed to flirt at the evening festivals. Despite some degree of relaxation permitted under cover of darkness, takarakit has long been particularly important there, with highly stylized etiquette, stricter for men than for women. More generally, men are supposed to always respect women, whether during informal sociability, in courtship conversation, or at the evening musical festivals, and are not supposed to boast of or discuss openly their relations with women. Men ideally should be modest, even self-effacing, in women’s presence. They should not be aggressive or coercive toward women. Thus there is some coincidence between takarakit and respectful conduct more generally. There is also an overlap between takarakit and some other values, such as imojagh (dignity or honor) and eshshek (decency). As anywhere, not everyone follows this ideal conduct. Takarakit is both asserted and violated, a “flashpoint” for debate.

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Appendix A · Some Background on Our Protagonists

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

LUSINGA LWA NG’OMBE (ca.1840–1884) and his mother’s brother Kansabala Kisuyu hailed from Buluba (Urua or Uguha in early European accounts), the generic name for lands northwest of Lubanda inhabited by eastern Luba and Luba-influenced people. Pierre Colle’s important ethnography of 1913, Les Baluba, concerns just such communities that were peripheral to Luba polities along the lakes of the Upemba Depression and the banks of the Lualaba River, as a major tributary of the mighty Congo. Indeed, the foremost figure of Colle’s account, Chief Kyombo, was of the same clan as Lusinga, and as Colle explains, Kyombo actively sought Luba material and performance arts in emulation of his powerful neighbors.1 Lusinga took similar measures, and his praise name, “Ng’ombe,” makes esoteric reference to Luba kings, tributary gifts, burial places, and ancestral spirits. At greater geographical and intellectual distance, the name resonates with social relations and cultural principles personified by Ryangombe, the hero of societies of the Great Lakes region of east-central DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda.2 Such references are consistent with the thesis of the present book, that Lusinga lwa Ng’ombe was a most ambitious actor in times of radical social change.

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4 Difference in Diaspora: The Yiddishe Mama, the Jewish Mother, the Jewish Princess, and Their Men

Carol Zemel Indiana University Press ePub

The Yiddishe Mama and her younger sister the Jewish Mother are beloved and derided stereotypes in America, and the shift in character from one configuration to the other, from Mama to Mother, tells a diaspora history.1 With this chapter, attention turns from Jewish visual culture in Eastern Europe, home to the world’s largest Jewish population before 1939, to North America, where the greatest number of world Jewry currently resides. Jewish immigrants to the United States arrived in waves, mainly between the late 1880s and 1924, when strict entry quotas were imposed. The immigrants’ goal was to “be American,” to leave behind the Old World and its traditions, and to find a place in a nation that promised well-being and social possibility.

In the early twentieth century, another Jewish diaspora framed its identity. Aided by the Yiddish American press and the cultural forms of popular music, photography, radio, and film, America’s Jews produced their own stereotypes, which embodied their progress and achievement in the new world. This chapter thus has a double focus. I begin with visual formulations of Jewish men and women in the first half of the twentieth century, not simply to campaign against stereotype, but rather to track the vicissitudes of self-made Jewish identity. From this perspective, the Yiddishe Mama and members of her family not only reveal the terms of assimilationist desire, they also demonstrate how the deployment of self-stereotype in popular culture effectively maps and manages the terms of diaspora success.2 The discussion then moves to contemporary imagery, noting the place of modern Jewish art in American high culture, and the varied deployment of Jewish gender stereotypes as cultural critique.

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Medium 9780253013873

6 Zombie Physiology

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

The point is, it wasn’t a surprise, the war . . . or emergency, or whatever you want to call it . . . it was already on. It had been, what, three months since everyone jumped on the panic train.

Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

While it has become de rigueur to portray the zombie onslaught as a war, this analogy is in fact seriously flawed and can result in lethal outcomes for humans who hew to orthodox strategies of offensive or defensive warfare. Consider that zombie warfare is not driven by a religious motive or geopolitical objective. Beyond the common innate drive to consume human flesh, zombies exhibit no cooperative group objective. Moreover, zombie predation does not appear to be driven by any planned or organized strategies conforming to the strictures of either traditional or terrorist warfare, although as described later, sufficient densities of zombies can spontaneously generate several rudimentary but lethal modes of uncoached clustering.

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5. Mask and Spear: Art, Thing, Commodity

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub



Material objects are chains along which social relationships run.

—E. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer (1940)

Every material object is constituted as an object of discourse.

—Christopher Tilley, “Michel Foucault: Towards an Archaeology of Archaeology” (1990)


In this chapter I reach the core of the book’s second and more aesthetically focused set of arguments, which concern the interpretations, both indigenous and exogenous, of the masks and spears of my historical narrative. In earlier chapters (1 and 2), I argued that missionaries’ and explorers’ accounts, novels, the popular press, and colonial government reports created a discursive field around the institutions and practices of warriorhood in what became the British colonies of Nigeria and Kenya. The inscriptions were very different in the two locales and resulted in markedly dissimilar governing policies. And because these policies had a direct effect upon artisanal practice related to warriorhood, I have argued that they inadvertently set the conditions for artistic and technical innovation. Because the Idoma and Samburu cultural scripts were very divergent, innovation meant something different in each case: the transformation of a mask genre for the Idoma and the opening up of the smith’s previously limited spear repertory for the Samburu. In the next section (chapters 3 and 4), I turned to a closer scrutiny of the power and limitations of the Idoma sculptor and the Samburu smith within a larger cultural script of African practice. But the argument cannot end there, because although I have traced the innovations in certain kinds of objects as they relate to a repertory and practice, I have not looked at them as visual texts. To understand the place these objects have come to inhabit in an externally structured art-world or material-culture concept, one has to trace the variations in ways they have been talked and written about in the colonial and postcolonial spaces they have inhabited.

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Medium 9780253009036

13 Rhetorics of Resistance: The Port Huron Project

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub


When I started teaching at Brown University in 2005, I was surprised by how little antiwar protest there was on campus. Brown has a long history of student activism: the eruptions of 1968 culminated in Brown’s adoption of progressive new curriculum drafted by students, and in 1985 students erected shanties and staged hunger strikes to protest the university’s investments in companies doing business in South Africa. It was clear that my students objected to American involvement in Iraq and the Bush administration’s disregard for civil liberties, but they seemed to believe that resistance was futile. It is not hard to imagine why. In 2000 they witnessed a presidential election that many believed had been stolen. In 2003 many students participated in the largest antiwar protests in history (the BBC estimated that six to ten million people in sixty countries protested the imminent invasion of Iraq on February 15 and 16 of that year), but the Bush and Blair administrations were undeterred.1 In 2004 many students worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign only to see George W. Bush reelected by a narrow margin amid accusations of voting fraud. Their formative political experiences had left them demotivated, if not cynical.

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Medium 9781574412895


Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF


EARLY YEARS: 1924–1949

Mural painting is architectural. It’s part of the building. One of the marvelous things about the medium is that you have to go to the building to paint, if it’s really done right. Murals that can be painted directly on the walls, to me, are the greatest expression… To me it’s a medium in which to express the community…

If you do the painting for people, and you feel that you are part of the culture, that is the greatest thing that can happen to you. Everyone in the community becomes a part of that mural.

John Thomas Biggers, quoted in Felts and Moon,

“Artists Series: An Interview with John Biggers”

u  u  u 

Gastonia, North Carolina, 1924–1941

John Thomas Biggers was born on April 13, 1924, the youngest of the seven children of Paul and Cora Biggers. The family lived in the Negro area of Gastonia,

North Carolina, a mill town in the heart of the segregated South, where Paul

Biggers worked as a teacher, preacher, cobbler, blacksmith, and farmer.

Although poor in worldly goods, Paul and Cora Biggers created a rich and loving home life that placed high value on religion, education, and creative endeavors. John Biggers recalled whole summers “building a complete city from clay soil, sticks, rocks and moss in a cool space under our house.”1 With great pleasure, he described vivid childhood memories of his mother and grandmother quilting, his brothers drawing pictures from the Bible and magazines, and his father studying quietly. “I had a marvelous father. He was very stern, hard man, because he’d come out of a very hard way of life, but there was a wonderful relationship between him and Mama. Mama was the boss of many things but he was the source behind the throne.”2

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Medium 9780253349118

6. Making Jewelry

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

INDIAN WOMEN GENERALLY view their jewelry as the central component of their personal adornment; something to hold, possess, and treasure as well as to wear, it is more important than their clothing. Clothes are used daily to convey multiple messages; they are changed and bought with frequency, but a woman’s jewelry is special for many reasons. Its cost is higher, its materials are precious, and its permanence provides a powerful sense of ownership and enables it to be passed down as an heirloom, building connections between the generations. Items of jewelry—like the brocaded saris of Banaras—are carefully chosen by the wearers for their beauty and symbolic value, and, like the saris, jewelry embodies the aesthetic choices made by a series of men—the suppliers of materials, the talented craftsmen, and the wily merchants. The production of jewelry involves complex negotiations of the kind found in the production of cloth. In both cases, the artists, the middlemen, and the sellers are men of different castes, ethnic groups, and religions. In both cases, the products—woven cloth or gold jewelry—can be imported from elsewhere in India or locally produced by desi artisans.

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9 · Composing Decomposition

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

Remembering is never a quiet act of introspection or retrospection. It is a painful remembering, a putting together of the dismembered past to make sense of the trauma of the present.


What funeral practices might have been undertaken had Lusinga met a natural—or at least a local—demise? While I would assert that Lusinga explicitly engaged in “culture-building” as he sought to validate his emerging authority through the commissioning of statuary and other visible and performative means, he was not doing so from whole cloth. Instead, he was adopting and adapting eastern Luba practices that were sufficiently resonant with Tabwa political culture as to be accepted locally. Such creative work included burial of chiefs.1

The archaeological record suggests how elaborate funeral rites could be for earlier peoples of the region, but archival materials concerning such matters as precolonial burial of chiefs are meager indeed, and Storms left the barest of notes that are not specific to any given chief, community, or moment in time.2 Most Tabwa with whom I worked in the 1970s knew very little of such procedures, and it is likely that a combination of secrecy, the inventive but discontinued maneuvers of ambitious individuals like Lusinga and Kansabala, and nearly a century of colonial intervention—especially by Catholic missionaries based at Mpala-Lubanda and Moba-Kirungu—mean that few details have been retained if they were ever widely known or generally practiced. Nothing resembling a “genealogy of performance” has been maintained or can be retrieved, then, and we have no glimpse of the inevitable “anxiety-inducing instability” of any given performance event when arguments about who does what and how are played out according to the particularities of local-level politics. As Victor Turner asserted, “There is no ‘authorized version’ of a given ritual” like a chief’s interment, and indeed, because of inexorably shifting social dynamics, “no performance . . . ever precisely resembles another.”3 Nor do available data permit an understanding of local variation in symbolism and broader purpose from one burial, village, chiefdom, clan, or ethnic difference to the next, to say nothing of the development of procedures across time. Surely there was variation, as one would expect among communities so loosely related to each other—if at all—as were Tabwa of the late nineteenth century. The archaeology of performance to be offered here will be a deductive quest, then, as stimulated by a most intriguing entry in the White Fathers’ Mpala Mission diary concerning the death and burial of Sultani Kansabala, Lusinga’s “mother’s brother.”

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2 Modern Artist, Modern Jew: Bruno Schulz’s Diasporas

Carol Zemel Indiana University Press ePub

Until a recent custody battle over his murals, Bruno Schulz was best known as a Polish Jewish writer of phantasmagoric and mythic tales. The stories collected in Cinnamon Shops (1934) and Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass (1937) are crafted in ornate embellished prose, and they spin out a wonder-filled vision of bourgeois life in a provincial Galician city much like Drohobycz, where Schulz lived all his life, and where he was murdered by a Nazi officer in 1942.1 (Map 2.1, figure 2.1.) Schulz is renowned in Poland; his work is widely read, and since the late 1960s, through the restorative efforts of Jerzy Ficowski, there have been regular exhibitions of his drawings and prints.2 But beyond those borders little close attention has been paid to Schulz’s visual art, and in some ways, it is easy to see why. Even though he exhibited in Lodz, Warsaw, Cracow, and Lvov, and at times in Jewish exhibition venues,3 his stories certainly reached the public more readily than his art. Many drawings were meant to accompany chapters of Sanitorium under the Sign of the Hourglass, and their status as anything other than text illustrations may not be clear. And there is also the explicit sexual content of Schulz’s The Booke [sic] of Idolatry (1920–22), a collection of twenty-six prints that center on themes of masochism, with the artist’s self-image as the primary figure of idolatrous behavior and self-abasement. For scholars and critics today, eager to celebrate Jewish art and artists, this is a far cry from the grandeur of biblical imagery or the shtetl culture pictured by Chagall.

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3 Dudespeak: Or, How to Bowl like a Pornstar

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Justus Nieland

What condition is the Dude’s linguistic condition in? Obviously, it’s fucked. But how? We might start with the fact that the Dude’s language, more often than not, is not his own, but a stoned mimesis of the phrase making of others. Dudespeak is mimicry, a compulsive borrowing from the stylized tissue of verbiage whose repetitions, loopings, and displacements constitute the film’s linguistic world. Examples abound: “This aggression will not stand, man”; “Her life was in our hands, man”; “In the parlance of our times, you know”; “Johnson?”; “You mean, coitus?”; “Beaver? You mean vagina?” All are citations, increasingly absurd sound bites whose discrepant reappearance in other contexts becomes so much linguistic grist for the Coens’ comic mill. Even what has come to be the Dude’s signature phrase, the linguistic encapsulation of an ethos—“The Dude abides”—is a rescripting of the purported limits of Jeffrey “the Big” Lebowski’s tolerance, his refusal to “abide another toe.” So, while the Dude, “quite possibly the laziest man in Los Angeles County,” may be prone to such mimetic locutions, Dudespeak exemplifies the broader expressive world of the film: “sometimes there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place, he fits right in there . . . and that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles.”

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6. Professionalizing Childhood: Nollywood and the New Youth Transnationalism

Noah A. Tsika Indiana University Press ePub


It would be difficult to overstate the paradoxical dilemmas facing African child performers, who tend to inspire hope while evoking fear. Over the past several years, I have encountered numerous Nollywood fans who criticize the industry for, in their eyes, failing to facilitate child stardom, and for forcing them to accept adult icons Ramsey Nouah, Mercy Johnson, Genevieve Nnaji, and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde (among many others) in youth roles. While acknowledging that it would be impossible to uncover any one reason for this contentious industrial trend, I nevertheless set out to better understand it. I found, almost at once, that fans’ overwhelmingly negative reactions to age-inappropriate casting—to, specifically, the casting of obvious adults in the roles of children—had much to do with these fans’ aspirations for Nollywood itself, with their collective hope that the industry might one day achieve a level of aesthetic realism commensurate with perceived global standards. While an orientation toward iconographic realism has fueled the so-called New Nollywood Cinema, with its focus on the ontology of the photographic image, it is clear that it extends as well to age, generating fan demand for the development of child stars to tackle child roles.

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Medium 9780253008527

4 - Recent History of Plein Air Painting in Indiana

Indiana Plein Air Painters Association Quarry Books ePub

T. C. Steele's home and studio, preserved as a State Historic Site, are open to the public throughout each year. To celebrate the artist's September 11 birthday, the Site sponsored the first Great Outdoor Art Contest in 1988 to encourage artists to paint on location. Several of the artists who continue to paint outdoors admit to having their first plein air experience at one of the Steele Site's outdoor art contests.

This initial “paint-out” in Indiana became an annual tradition and spawned other similar events throughout the state. One of the most significant and enduring paint-outs, the First Brush of Spring, established in 1999 in New Harmony, Indiana, attracts plein air painters nationally and currently boasts more than $6,000 in award money. The event kicks off the Hoosier painting season each April. Other annual paint-outs occur in Wabash, Culver, Lake Wawasee, Hanover, Indianapolis, Brookville, Edinburgh, Crawfordsville, and Richmond, among other towns. The T. C. Steele State Historic Site also sponsors a spring outdoor art contest in addition to their fall event.

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8 Found Document: The Stranger’s Commentary and a Note on His Method

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas B. Byers

The origins of the document reproduced in the following pages is shrouded in mystery. I will only say with certainty that it first came to the attention of the author of this commentary fully formed. Its narrator is, of course, a fictional character, derived from the Stranger (Sam Elliott) in the Coen brothers’ Big Lebowski. The document makes no secret of the artifice of this act of homage. The brief setup provides a decisive allusion to the almost identical language used to introduce the character in the screenplay: “We are floating up a steep scrubby slope. We hear male voices gently singing ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds’ and a deep, affable, Western-accented voice—Sam Elliot’s, perhaps.”1 The rest of the document is written in the sort of cowboy lingo that Joel and Ethan Coen employ.

Given that the author of the document seems himself to be agnostic regarding questions of reference, there is no reason for us to posit direct identity between this character and any other, including the character of the Stranger played by Sam Elliott. For purposes of convenience in this commentary, I only note a pronounced similarity between the two characters’ voices and refer to the “speaker” of this text as the Other Stranger. His antecedents, like those of the Coens’ Stranger, are to be found in the fictional genre of the Western, and particularly in that tradition’s Hollywood instantiations. Perhaps the text may provisionally be considered an example of that “blank” parody identified by Fredric Jameson in his well-known essay on postmodernism as “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (Postmodernism, 1). Jameson himself figures prominently in the mystery text, for there seems little doubt that he is the “fella from back east in Durham” referred to in the Other Stranger’s opening sentence. Jameson’s “blank parody” is ungrounded parody whose target is unspecified, or perhaps even non-existent. It is parody without a point, one in which whatever is parodied is appreciated as much as critiqued, and in which the primary end is the parodic performance itself. What we have here largely fits that description, but it may differ in certain interesting ways—ways consonant with the larger phenomenon of postmodernism that is Jameson’s subject. The Other Stranger’s discourse may be a form of what I would call “disseminated” parody, in which there is no single target, and the satiric and comic effects arise at any given moment from the juxtaposition of two equally appreciated and equally critiqued discourses. Thus, when the Other Stranger “does” a version of academic cultural studies in his Hollywood Western voice, the reader may smile both at the expense of and in appreciation of both discourses.

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