Popular Culture and Music in Post-Colonial Africa: From Palm Wine to Kuduro (MHI2253.02)

Joseph Alpar

In this course we will examine the role of music as a vehicle for political and social change in Africa. Our focus will be music-making throughout the continent of Africa during the nationalist struggles that resulted in independent African states and how musicians responded (and continue to respond) to the persistent challenges faced by those post-colonial states. We will tackle issues of identity, nationalism, ritual, gender, democracy, censorship, resistance, violence and conflict, oral history transmission, decolonization, globalization, social struggle, health, environmentalism, and human rights, always considering how music and politics can affect and transform each other. Moreover, we will attempt to disentangle some key assumptions and misunderstandings of music and culture throughout Africa. Course content will consist of readings drawn from ethnomusicology, history, and anthropology, a rich playlist of listening examples, films and music videos, and musical guests. Some specific music styles and genres will include: rumba and soukous (Congo/Zaire), jújù music and Afrobeat (Nigeria), palm-wine, highlife, and hiplife (Ghana) kuduro (Angola), psychedelic Zamrock (Zambia) Swahili taraab music (Zanzibar and Mombasa), isicathamiya and township jazz (South Africa), national dance companies (Zimbabwe) raï song and chaabi (Algeria and Morocco) Francophone salsa (Guinea, Benin) and transSaharan musics (Mali and Mauritania). Your own participation, including active engagement in class discussions and written responses about readings, will be central to this course.

Prerequisites: None.
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
M/Th 3:30PM-5:20PM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

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