Contemporary African Cultural Productions. V. Y. Mudimbe, Dakar,CODESRIA,2012, 328 p., ISBN: 978-2-86978-539-7
This book is a product of the CODESRIA Annual Social Science
All over Africa, an explosion in cultural productions of various genres is in evidence. Whether in relation to music, song and dance, drama, poetry, film, documentaries, photography, cartoons, fine arts, novels and short stories, essays, and (auto)biography; the continent is experiencing a robust outpouring of creative power that is as remarkable for its originality as its all-round diversity.
Beginning from the late 1970s and early 1980s, the African continent has experienced the longest and deepest economic crises than at any other time since the period after the Second World War. Interestingly however, while practically every indicator of economic development was declining in nominal and/ or real terms for most aspects of the continent, cultural productions were on the increase. Out of adversity, the creative genius of the African produced cultural forms that at once spoke to crises and sought to transcend them.
The current climate of cultural pluralism that has been produced in no small part by globalization has not been accompanied by an adequate pluralism of ideas on what culture is, and/or should be; nor informed by an equal claim to the production of the cultural – packaged or not. Globalization has seen to movement and mixture, contact and linkage, interaction and exchange where cultural flows of capital, people, commodities, images and ideologies have meant that the globe has become a space, with new asymmetries, for an increasing intertwinement of the lives of people and, consequently, of a greater blurring of normative definitions as well as a place for re-definition, imagined and real.
As this book – Contemporary African Cultural Productions – has done, researching into African culture and cultural productions that derive from it allows us, among other things, to enquire into definitions, explore historical dimensions, and interrogate the political dimensions to presentation and representation. The book therefore offers us an intervention that goes beyond the normative literary and cultural studies’ main foci of race, difference and identity; notions which, while important in themselves might, without the necessary historicizing and interrogating, result in a discourse that rather re-inscribes the very patterns that necessitate writing against.
This book is an invaluable compendium to scholars, researchers, teachers, students and others who specialize on different aspects of African culture and cultural productions, as well as cultural centers and general readers.
V.Y. Mudimbe is Professor of Literature at Duke University, USA. Among his publications are The Invention of Africa and The Idea of Africa, both published by Indiana University Press.