32 Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

9 Thresholds of New African Dramaturgies in France Today

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Mária Minich Brewer

Not all voices can be heard at the same time in the same story/history.

Kossi Efoui, Solo d’un revenant

THIS COLLECTION OF essays, Rethinking African Cultural Productions, offers an occasion to question theater’s physical and symbolic borders, frontiers, separations, and border crossings. Working as it does across multiple thresholds and dimensions simultaneously, whether of time, space, language, or the body, the art of the theater engages its public in critical considerations of and across borders. A new generation of African diasporic playwrights of the 1990s have thoroughly reinvented the social and symbolic possibilities for new theatrical languages. In this essay, I propose to map out some of the theatrical thresholds implicit in such a project of reinventing a new theatricality. This critical work on thresholds, I argue, needs to focus explicitly on the symbolic, social, and material dimensions of writing for performance.

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Medium 9780253353801

11 What Condition the Postmodern Condition Is In: Collecting Culture in The Big Lebowski

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Allan Smithee

In the spring of 1998, moviegoers had the chance to purchase a ticket to a magic carpet ride called The Big Lebowski, a strange new Coen brothers project that may never have gotten off the ground had it not been for the assured wizardry of its creators and its colorful cast of likable actors. In the end, it sank like a bowling ball after just a few short weeks, having racked up a paltry domestic gross of $17,451,873, a largely unsympathetic reaction from critics and indifference from a mass audience that seemed interested only in keeping the good ship Titanic afloat at the local multiplex (boxofficemojo.com). At that point, Lebowski might very well have settled into its designated slot in the home video graveyard, fondly remembered, perhaps, by the same clutch of diehard Coen brothers fans who continue to defend disappointments like The Hudsucker Proxy. What happened instead was a massive revival, one that has by now easily transcended the esoteric confines of the “cult movie” and settled into a strata of public awareness somewhere just this side of the American pantheon of immortal favorites like Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, and The Blues Brothers. Of course, the belated adoration of Lebowski is not unique in and of itself, for there are plenty of other recent comedies such as Half-Baked or Office Space that have also turned into breakout hits only after their release on home video, thanks in no small part to that peculiarly imitative ritual whereby people recite memorable dialogue or recount favorite scenes. Though such vernacular mimicry has also contributed heavily to the Lebowski phenomenon, I want to begin my discussion by suggesting that what truly distinguishes The Big Lebowski as a film—what compels us to watch it repeatedly, what makes it a phenomenon worthy of study, and what swells its continually growing ranks of admirers—is its almost unrivalled capacity to act as an occasion for the collecting of culture.

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Medium 9780253007438

6 · The Rise of a Colonial Macabre

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

I saw him immediately as headless, as becomes him; but what
to do with this cumbersome and doubting head?

—ANDRÉ MASSON, ON ACEPHALUS

We have not yet finished with Lusinga’s head. Émile Storms’s reasons for taking it may seem as obvious to readers nowadays as they may have been to the lieutenant and those in Europe to whom he explained his efforts through his various reports and letters: Bwana Boma was simply trying to put an end to a “sanguinary potentate” and so establish peace and order for the good of all. Why not take Lusinga’s head? In so doing, Storms could match brutality with brutality and hope to establish his authority among people whom he found to be bloodthirsty, while participating in the “scientific” mission of the IAA as urged by the secretary general himself.1 After his return to Brussels, Bwana Boma would submit Lusinga’s skull to the scrutiny of metropolitan physical anthropologists, and that would be that. There was more at stake than such obvious ends, however, and furthermore, surely unbeknownst to the lieutenant, the taking of Lusinga’s head touched upon far more esoteric levels of reckoning for at least some Tabwa of his time.

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Medium 9780253007414

10. Artesãos da Nossa Pátria: Makonde Blackwood Sculptors, Cooperatives, and the Art of Socialist Revolution in Postcolonial Mozambique

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Alexander Bortolot

On a sunny day in northern Mozambique in 1973, the British journalist Iain Christie interviewed Samora Machel, the political and military commander of FRELIMO, or the Mozambican Liberation Front, and future president of Mozambique. Christie had come to the northern province of Cabo Delgado to write about FRELIMO’s “liberated zones,” areas where the political movement’s armed rebellion had largely pushed out the Portuguese and established autonomous territories in anticipation of eventual national liberation. A declared Marxist-Leninist vanguard party, FRELIMO intellectuals in Tanzania had early on adopted socialism as an alternative to both the capitalist colonialism of the Portuguese overseas empire and what it termed the “feudal tribalism” of precolonial societies. When war broke out in 1964, Machel and the party leadership sought to erect a new society within its liberated zones based in a materialist dialectic of class struggle and collective production.

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Medium 9780253348920

3. Colonial Rupture and Innovation: The Colonizer as Inadvertent Patron

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub

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COLONIAL RUPTURE AND INNOVATION: THE COLONIZER AS INADVERTENT PATRON

Narrating warriorhood in early colonial Kenya and Nigeria invoked parallel stories of what the British referred to as “spear-blooding” and “headhunting.” In both situations, the British colonial administration directly intervened to contain (in Samburu) or suppress (in Idoma) a cultural practice that seemed to flagrantly undermine what the colonizers saw as their civilizing mission. I now take up the backstory, which is about the spears and the heads and their own subsequent transformations, for what they reveal about the capacity of colonialism to affect artisanal practice. Far from suppressing the inventiveness or creativity of blacksmiths and woodcarvers, colonial interventions unintentionally stimulated it. Quite simply, while literary representations and informal discourse both reflected and influenced colonial policy, those policies often misfired, and what began as an attempt to coerce or control was either impossible to implement or contained internal spaces and contradictions that allowed unintended and unforeseen results to emerge. This was the case for both the Samburu spear ban and the banning of Idoma war dances that used skulls.

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