Popobawa: Tanzanian Talk, Global Misreadings
Since the 1960s, people on the islands off the coast of Tanzania have talked about being attacked by a mysterious creature called Popobawa, a shapeshifter often described as having an enormous penis. Popobawa’s recurring attacks have become a popular subject for stories, conversation, gossip, and humor that has spread far beyond East Africa. Katrina Daly Thompson shows that talk about Popobawa becomes a tool that Swahili speakers use for various creative purposes such as subverting gender segregation, advertising homosexuality, or discussing female sexuality. By situating Popobawa discourse within the social and cultural world of the Swahili Coast as well as the wider world of global popular culture, Thompson demonstrates that uses of this legend are more diverse and complex than previously thought and provides insight into how women and men communicate in a place where taboo, prohibition, and restraint remain powerful cultural forces.
A Customized Version of Harold Scheub's "The African Storyteller"
A Customized Version of Harold Scheub’s “The African Storyteller,” is collection of oral stories from Africa, drawn from sources representing 250 years of history and almost 12 million square miles of geography, has been studied by thousands of people. It may very well be the most widely shared repertoire of African oral traditions outside of the continent.
Medieval Empires and the Culture of Competition: Literary Duels at Islamic and Christian Courts
A probing inquiry into medieval court struggles, this book shows the relationship between intellectual conflict and the geopolitics of empire. It examines the Persian Buyids’ takeover of the great Arab caliphate in Iraq, the counter-Crusade under Saladin, and the literature of sovereignty in Spain and Italy at the cusp of the Renaissance. The question of high culture—who best qualified as a poet, the function of race and religion in forming a courtier, what languages to use in which official ceremonies—drove much of medieval writing, and even policy itself. From the last moments of the Abbasid Empire, to the military campaign for Jerusalem, to the rise of Crusades literature in spoken Romance languages, authors and patrons took a competitive stance as a way to assert their place in a shifting imperial landscape.
State and Culture in Postcolonial Africa
How has the state impacted culture and cultural production in Africa? How has culture challenged and transformed the state and our understandings of its nature, functions, and legitimacy? Compelled by complex realities on the ground as well as interdisciplinary scholarly debates on the state-culture dynamic, senior scholars and emerging voices examine the intersections of the state, culture, and politics in postcolonial Africa in this lively and wide-ranging volume. The coverage here is continental and topics include literature, politics, philosophy, music, religion, theatre, film, television, sports, child trafficking, journalism, city planning, and architecture. Together, the essays provide an energetic and nuanced portrait of the cultural forms of politics and the political forms of culture in contemporary Africa.
Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique (Refiguring American Music)
Audible Empire rethinks the processes and mechanisms of empire and shows how musical practice has been crucial to its spread around the globe. Music is a means of comprehending empire as an audible formation, and the contributors highlight how it has been circulated, consumed, and understood through imperial logics. These fifteen interdisciplinary essays cover large swaths of genre, time, politics, and geography, and include topics such as the affective relationship between jazz and cigarettes in interwar China; the sonic landscape of the U.S.– Mexico border; the critiques of post-9/11 U.S. empire by desi rappers; and the role of tonality in the colonization of Africa. Whether focusing on Argentine tango, theorizing anticolonialist sound, or examining the music industry of postapartheid South Africa, the contributors show how the audible has been a central component in the creation of imperialist notions of reason, modernity, and culture. In doing so, they allow us to hear how empire is both made and challenged.
Contributors: Kofi Agawu, Philip V. Bohlman. Michael Denning, Brent Hayes Edwards, Nan Enstad, Andrew Jones, Josh Kun, Morgan Luker, Jairo Moreno, Tejumola Olaniyan, Marc Perry, Ronald Radano, Nitasha Sharma, Micol Seigel, Gavin Steingo, Penny Von Eschen, Amanda Weidman.
Gendered Lives in the Western Indian Ocean: Islam, Marriage, and Sexuality on the Swahili Coast
Muslim communities throughout the Indian Ocean have long questioned what it means to be a “good Muslim.” Much recent scholarship on Islam in the Indian Ocean considers debates among Muslims about authenticity, authority, and propriety. Despite the centrality of this topic within studies of Indian Ocean, African, and other Muslim communities, little of the existing scholarship has addressed such debates in relation to women, gender, or sexuality. Yet women are deeply involved with ideas about what it means to be a “good Muslim.”
In Gendered Lives in the Western Indian Ocean, anthropologists, historians, linguists, and gender studies scholars examine Islam, sexuality, gender, and marriage on the Swahili coast and elsewhere in the Indian Ocean. The book examines diverse sites of empowerment, contradiction, and resistance affecting cultural norms, Islam and ideas of Islamic authenticity, gender expectations, ideologies of modernity, and British education. The book’s attention to both masculinity and femininity, broad examination of the transnational space of the Swahili coast, and inclusion of research on non-Swahili groups on the East African coast makes it a unique and indispensable resource.
Contributors: Nadine Beckmann, Pat Caplan, Corrie Decker, Rebecca Gearhart, Linda Giles, Meghan Halley, Susan Hirsch, Susi Keefe, Kjersti Larsen, Elisabeth McMahon, Erin Stiles, and Katrina Daly Thompson
Zimbabwe's Cinematic Arts: Language, Power, Identity
This timely book reflects on discourses of identity that pervade local talk and texts in Zimbabwe, a nation beset by political and economic crisis. As she explores questions of culture that play out in broadly accessible local and foreign film and television, Katrina Daly Thompson shows how viewers interpret these media and how they impact everyday life, language use, and thinking about community. She offers a unique understanding of how media reflect and contribute to Zimbabwean culture, language, and ethnicity.