206 Chapters
  Title Author Publisher Format Buy Remix
Medium 9780253353801

15 On the White Russian

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Craig N. Owens

Palm trees finger the sky, and there’s enough sunshine to lay some off on Pittsburgh. But that’s all on top. L.A., truth to tell, is not much different than a pretty girl with the clap.

Coleman and Zippel, City of Angels

Thanks to James Bond’s filmic popularity, the two rival mixologies of the vodka Martini are well known: the shaken and the stirred. Indeed, one might easily imagine a Levi-Straussian work of cultural anthropology, along the lines of The Raw and the Cooked, exploring how these two mixing methods have come to encapsulate whole attitudes toward life, love, and libations. The mixological niceties of the White Russian, by contrast, remain relatively unremarked upon, even among libationists familiar with the Dude. For, while it’s conceivable that the Martini is to James Bond what the White Russian—or to use the preferred dudism, the Caucasian—is to the fortuitously eponymous protagonist of the Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski, it is not so clear what impact his Belarusian leanings have had on his favorite collation’s cultural place, beyond the cult of Lebowski enthusiasts.

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Medium 9780253015754

6. Professionalizing Childhood: Nollywood and the New Youth Transnationalism

Noah A. Tsika Indiana University Press ePub

6

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 9780253013873

11 Zombie Linguistics

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Every universe, our own included, begins in conversation. Every golem in the history of the world, from Rabbi Hanina’s delectable goat to the river-clay Frankenstein of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, was summoned into existence through language, through murmuring, recital and kabbalistic chitchat—was, literally, talked into life.

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Introduction

Guk.

Glakk.

Guk.

Guh.

Gar.

Zombies don’t make good conversation partners. When Sydney and Grant, the two main characters in Pontypool (2009), realize that the disease that transforms humans into zombies might be carried through language—specifically, English language—they look for a source. In the sudden realization that understanding language is the source, Sydney asks Grant, “How do you stop understanding? How do you make it strange?” Such questions point to crucial issues concerning the nature of human language and the possibility of zombie language. First, they encourage us to examine general definitions of language use and communication. Must language always involve meaningful exchange? If language requires negotiation between a sender and a receiver, how do the murmurs, moans, grunts, or growls of the zombie function? Second, they ask us to consider how the presence or absence of language serves as a criterion for the distinction between humanness and zombie-ism. In a way, if communication is not successful, you’re probably dealing with a zombie; if you’re dealing with a zombie, you can’t communicate with it.

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Medium 9780253340481

Chapter Seven Three Stories in Search of My Father

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253007438

2 · A Conflict of Memories

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

One cannot do good history, not even contemporary history, without regard for ideas, actions, and ontologies that are not and never were our own.

MARSHALL SAHLINS, HOW “NATIVES” THINK

Storms’s account of Lusinga’s demise will be left here in order to turn to Tabwa narration of the same events. Such alternative histories can move our understanding of fraught political relations beyond nineteenth-century European “idiom[s] of doubt” that would deny agency to soon-to-be-colonized Africans. To the degree possible all these years later, we need to consider what Tabwa thought and think of these same events via tropes and historiologies of their own making. “Concept[s] of agency as embedded in narrative possibility” can result, as Premesh Lalu notes of somewhat similar circumstances in nineteenth-century southern Africa. Indeed, an approach sensitive to metaphors and esoteric references embedded in narratives “may yield a story unimagined and unanticipated by the perpetrators” of proto-colonial violence like Bwana Boma.1

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Medium 9780253007414

CODA: Apprentices and Entrepreneurs Revisited: Twenty Years of Workshop Changes, 1987–2007

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

The original version of chapter 14 was prepared for a graduate seminar taught by John Picton at the School of Oriental and African Studies. It was further developed several years later for “The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional Africa,” a conference organized by Christopher Roy in 1985, and appeared in the 1987 The Artist and the Workshop in Traditional Africa as “Apprentices and Entrepreneurs: The Workshop and Style Uniformity in Subsaharan Africa.” It included comparisons of training and innovation among Akweya, Idoma, Ebira, Tiv, Kalabari, Dogon, Dan, Gola, Kulibele-Senufo, Maconde or Makonde, Yoruba, and Annang or Ibibio sculptors. The first five were chosen as examples of woodcarvers who learned their techniques and styles informally, without serving as apprentices to master carvers. The last seven went through apprenticeship systems of various kinds and were therefore trained by experienced members of their profession; some of these artists went on to set up their own individual practices, others were expected to join the kin- or ethnicity-based workshops or cooperatives where they apprenticed.

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Medium 9780253349118

1. Body Art in Banaras

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

EVERY ONE OF US gets dressed in the morning, every day of our lives. Clothing is one of the principal ways by which we express at once our personal identities and our culture. Dress, along with architecture and food, fulfills basic human needs for protection and creativity, while responding to environmental and social conditions. Since all people engage in these shared mediums of expression, one way to understand and compare cultures—and to see regional, local, and personal differences within cultures—is to examine specific modes of clothing, housing, and feeding the body. Schools and museums often utilize this basic triad in introducing children to the diversity of the world’s populations.1 But in contrast to the study of vernacular architecture, and, to a lesser extent, the study of foodways, the examination of everyday clothing is not yet fully developed. Surveys of national dress tend to generalize, homogenize, and anonymize individuals, discounting personal interpretations of social norms. Other books focus on extreme cases—the counter-cultural young with their tattoos, the economic elite with their enthusiasm for high fashion. It is my aim to provide a study of the clothing choices made by ordinary people, in keeping with the theoretical premises of my discipline, folklore, which, to begin, I will define as the study of creativity in everyday life.2

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Medium 9780253015976

10 Island Geography as Creole Biography: Shenaz Patel’s Mauritian Literary Production

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

Magali Compan

MANY CRITICS HAVE examined the production of francophone-African artists relocated to France by focusing on the condition of exile and its potential for creative friction. Since the 1930s and through today, numerous francophone authors have found in France favorable conditions for literary creation. Critics have reinforced an understanding of the impetus for exile as coming from a lack of opportunities and resources for those who would choose to remain and write in their country or homeland. Kate Quinn, for example, invokes the expression of Jamaican writer Andrew Salkey, “Emigrate or vegetate,” as an adage for the cultural impoverishment that writers in the Caribbean face if they do not leave.

This imperative for emigration has driven francophone writers from Africa and the Indian Ocean for generations, and, as a result, ostensibly “African” francophone literary works are, by and large, produced and consumed outside the places they seek to represent. But what about the writers who decide to stay? How does a “home” geography or place affect an author’s writing and authorship? What are the relationships among location, a sense of place, and one’s identity formation, not only as a writer but as an individual or a member of a community? What influence, if any, does place exert on one’s identity? How do sites of production and histories together generate authorship and identity, francophone or otherwise? The case of Shenaz Patel, one of a contemporary group of successful female writers from Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean, offers revealing answers to these questions. Unlike her Mauritian literary contemporaries (including Ananda Devi, Nathacha Appanah, and Marie-Therese Humbert, all of whom live in France), Patel has maintained residence in and pursued her literary career from her native island. While writing for the global francophone literary marketplace, Patel also remains committed to other endeavors that tie her to Mauritius, her local community, and her extended family. She is not only an internationally recognized francophone author but also a local journalist, having written for (and served as the managing editor of) the independent political Mauritian newspaper Le Nouveau Militant and the main newspaper on the island, Week End. Committed to a project of “re-transcribing Creole culture” (retranscrire la culture creole), as she puts it, Patel also translates French-language popular cultural texts into Creole for local readerships (including, for example, the Tintin comic books). She also writes stories in Creole for local publication and has written theater plays for local production. As a librarian, she maintains writing projects linked to local Creole community activism and cultural engagement. Thus the crossing of French and Mauritian Creole in her francophone literary production emanates from her diversified set of local, Creole cultural commitments and projects. As such, her literary work contributes to a suite of endeavors that together constitute the “place” of Patel’s francophone writing of and from the island of Mauritius.

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Medium 9781603444668

5. Living Downstream: East Austin through the Blackland Prairies

Margie Crisp Texas A&M University Press ePub

EAST AUSTIN THROUGH THE BLACKLAND PRAIRIES

The river pours out of Longhorn Dam and starts a series of lazy, looping curves on its way to the coast. It changes in temperament and character. The way people look at it alters; there can be no mistaking that it is a river again, in name and nature. Just downstream from the last dam (for the present), the river glides underneath the soaring buttresses and pillars of the Montopolis Bridges. The river feels like an anachronism after the high-priced estates and manicured lawns bordering the reservoirs upstream. City of Austin parks bordering the river on either side (Guerro Park on the south and the Colorado River Preserve on the north) are not akin to the mowed and maintained hike and bike trails just upstream around Lady Bird Lake. Erosion eats at the banks of Guerro Park. In the Colorado River Preserve, eroded trails score the woods, heaps of dumped household and construction trash clog the gullies, and debris washed downstream laces the brush.

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Medium 9780253007414

14. Apprentices and Entrepreneurs: The Workshop and Style Uniformity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

One of the major questions in African art scholarship concerns the degree to which the African artist was and is free to invent. Despite the early insights of Boas (1955[1927]:155) and his followers concerning artistic invention in oral cultures, the accepted picture until recently was that of the African artist as slave to tradition. He could not innovate because the pressures of traditional patronage forbade it. Since that time, numerous field researchers have shown that innovation can and does occur when the conditions are favorable. During the same period, the documentation of African art has expanded dramatically, and with it has come confirmation that the old “one tribe, one style” model fails to describe the stylistic diversity found in most art-producing African cultures (Kasfir 1984). We are, therefore, at a point where everyone recognizes that style varies from artist to artist as well as over time, even in quite highly structured and conservative societies. But how do these variations arise? And, more important, why do they occur much more often in some societies than in others? The purpose of this chapter is to examine the dynamics through which an artist’s personal style is encoded along with the limitations placed upon stylistic change. Although I will make less mention of it, most of the arguments hold true for iconography as well, simply because the two are often inseparable. I will focus on two major aspects of the question: the way in which the artist acquires a style, and the effects of patronage on his ability to change it. In doing so I am faced with a methodological dilemma: to generalize is to invite oversimplification of very complex creative processes, but to maintain that because every African culture is unique, it is not susceptible to comparative analysis is to reinforce stereotypical ideas concerning the lack of any common ground between creativity in literate and in oral cultures. Because of this problem, I have found it useful to compare some of the findings of other researchers with my own answers to these questions. As more documentation becomes available, these comparisons become increasingly valid.

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Medium 9780253340481

Chapter Nine Many Loves and a Deep Friendship

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253006875

9. Who Owns the Past?: Constructing an Art History of a Malian Masquerade

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

MARY JO ARNOLDI

 

Since the 1980s anthropologists have paid increasingly more attention to issues of ethnographic authority, fieldwork reciprocity, and the way that collaboration through interviews profoundly shapes the production of scholarly narratives.1 This chapter focuses on the critical role that interviews have played in my field research and in the writing of an art history of youth association masquerades in Mali.2 My analysis considers the ways that interviews are both collaborative and cumulative processes. I examine my interviews with various individuals and groups and look at the ways that my casual conversations, as well as more formal taped interviews with men and women performers and with male blacksmith-carvers, have been instrumental in the production of an art history of this art form. These collaborations represent different but intersecting domains of knowledge and experience that have each contributed in critical ways to shaping, reshaping, and extending the scholarly narrative about these masquerades.

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Medium 9780253348920

Coda: From Spears to Guns in the North Rift

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub

Coda

FROM SPEARS TO GUNS IN THE NORTH RIFT

This book has asked: What happens to a complex representation when the cultural script undergoes a major change? The original context was British colonialism, but just such a thing has occurred again during the decade in which this book was researched and written. In this last section, I attempt an updated reading on the fighting spear in Samburu culture, the evidence for which comes from reports on the radio, on the Internet, and in newspapers and from first-hand accounts within Samburu District.

In Idomaland, it took the Pax Britannica and the banning of headhunting in 1917 to aestheticize and memorialize warriorhood and turn a disappearing supply of enemy crania into carved representations and a war dance into a masquerade. Nearly a century later, Samburu warriorhood is still a recognized and clearly marked stage of life, but in the past decade its main symbol, the spear, has begun to undergo a similar kind of transformation.

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Medium 9780253013873

5 Zombie Health Care

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Wouldn’t it be kinder, more compassionate to just hold your loved ones and wait for the clock to run down?

Dr. Edwin Jenner in “TS-19,” The Walking Dead (2010)

“Wildfire,” the fifth episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead’s first season, shows a crisis many Americans are currently facing.1 In the aftermath of a zombie attack, the human survivors must prevent their killed loved ones from returning as zombies. One woman, Carol, refuses to let the group’s men take responsibility for “decraniating” her prone life partner. “He’s my husband,” she says before splattering his gray matter onto the viewing lens. The scene cuts to another woman, Andrea, cradling her dead sister and waiting for the first sign of reanimation. Over a soundtrack of sentimentalized music, Andrea mournfully says, “Amy. Amy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not ever being there. I always thought that there’d be more time. I’m here now, Amy. I’m here. I love you.” When Amy’s groans indicate her undead return, the men move to dispatch her. But Andrea preempts this outsider intervention by shooting her own sister’s brains out.

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Medium 9780253007438

Appendix B · A Note on Illustrations

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

Illustrations chosen for this book have been selected from the very few that portray the persons, events, relationships, objects, and places that are its subjects. Not a single depiction of Lusinga has been discovered other than the sculpture embodying his matrilineage that was seized by Storms’s men and is now to be found at the Tervuren museum, as discussed at length in chapter 9. The only sense we have of what the man may have looked like is derived from the two or three descriptive adjectives in visitors’ accounts, and these were far from precise—or charitable. Portraits of particular central Africans are nearly nonexistent in explorers’ texts or popular magazines of the time, in part because of the long poses still necessary and other practical aspects of the day’s photographic technologies, but also because political purposes of illustration were first and foremost to contribute to proto-colonial ideology by depicting “natives” in very particular ways. That these pictures are cultural constructions of their day may seem self-evident, yet the paucity of scholarly attention to visual materials of the sort prompts this appendix.13

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