206 Chapters
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3. Can the Artist Speak?: Hamid Kachmar's Subversive Redemptive Art of Resistance

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub


I would go to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without fear…. And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.”



Berber artists are not really concerned about personal styles; nor do they care if they are remembered as individuals. Their goals are to present personal views…expressed through the lexicon of collective memory rooted in the tradition of tying knots, combining motifs and taking care that the grammar is not breeched.


In the fall of 2009 Hamid Kachmar, a young Moroccan artist of Amazigh heritage, was featured in a solo show in the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum located in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The mission of the Brown Gallery and the Stone Center is “to critically examine all dimensions of African American, African and African Diaspora cultures through its education program and through the formal exhibition of works of art and other items.”1

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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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Chapter Ten Events Follow Events

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253353801

19 Size Matters

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Judith Roof

The Collector’s Edition DVD of The Big Lebowski begins with an appended introduction to the film by Mortimer Young, president of Forever Young Film Preservation. His prologue, in the genre of the ceremonial film introduction, addresses both the casual viewer and the aesthete. Narrating the film’s history and provenance, and preparing the audience for its delights, Young traces the journey of the version that follows, recounting its rediscovery in a dubbed Italian version that has been redubbed into English. What survives, he warns us, is not exactly the original, but close enough for a film that has been destroyed in a fire, multiply translated, lost and found, and restored to us under the title The Grand Lebowski.

How you gonna keep them down on the farm
once they’ve seen Karl Hungus?

In The Big Lebowski, a film with so many pins and balls, with so many penetrations, penetrating looks, and penetrated eye views, one would think there would be an ample supply of penetrations, all big, bulky, and vain. But there are not. Or there are too many soon-to-be disqualified contestants. The only real man in the place seems to be “The” Jesus Quintana, a pastel-coordinated pederastic bowler with a penchant for threatening anal intercourse while waving the hard-on of his prosthetic finger stiffener. Bowling pins are relatively smaller than balls, if we wish at all to ascribe to what seems to be the obvious binary sex symbologies of the bowling alley. But the allegory is not as obvious as it seems, in fact, and it is at best fluidly shifting. Balls penetrate alleys and pins, and bowlers penetrate balls, three-fingering those bounding lasses that serve in turn as their rotund synecdoches, now big roly-polies frotting the standing ten, glancing the circle jerk where nine out of ten on the average come off. Then the benedictions of the great enfolding matrix, a giant set of holes descending on the hapless pins, sucking them up or brushing them off, cupping them in a caressingly careful (re)placement, and beneficently endowing the hungry balls with a ten-pack’s impending generosity.

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4 • Gyapagpa Temple’s Painting Style and Its Antecedents

Melissa R. Kerin Indiana University Press ePub

Based on the insights of the last two chapters it is clear that the Gyapagpa Temple’s sixteenth-century painting program was the result of a vital ’Bri gung (Drigung) resurgence that affected much of the western Himalayan region during the late medieval period. Given this temple’s significant role in piecing together the region’s religious history, a lingering question must be raised: How could this valuable historic document have gone underanalyzed for so long? The answer to this question is enmeshed within at least two interconnected issues regarding trends in South Asian, and specifically Tibetan, art historical scholarship. As for the first of these two issues, there has generally been a tendency to document, analyze, and publish Tibetan art from earlier rather than later periods. Much of Tibetan art history has focused on earlier material of the eleventh through fourteenth centuries.1 Indeed, this is the case with the late sixteenth-century paintings at the Gyapagpa Temple, which were overshadowed by neighboring eleventh- and twelfth-century painting programs, both in the compound and in surrounding villages, such as Tabo. Antiquity was not always the deciding factor, however. It would seem that issues of connoisseurship also came into play when scholars neglected Gyapagpa’s paintings. Likely, its now faded paintings with limited modeling and sometimes clumsily executed lines inspired scholars to look at other sites, with similarly dated murals, such as at the religious and political centers of Tabo, Tholing, and Tsaparang.

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Chapter Seven Three Stories in Search of My Father

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
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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12. Mukta Tripathi

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

THOUGH MARRIED WOMEN in India are expected to be ornamented, some prefer to pay little attention to adornment and wear the minimum of jewelry, like Nina Khanchandani. Others, like Neelam Chaturvedi, indulge their affection for one kind of adornment—in her case, the sari—and downplay the others. Mukta Tripathi, a woman in her mid-forties and a mother of two, is, by contrast, passionate about all kinds of adornment.

I was directed to Mukta precisely because she is known to have a grand sense of personal style. Our conversations were lively and easy, because Mukta has carefully considered the variables that most people intuit but few can articulate.1 Mukta spoke energetically, interrupting herself to illustrate her points. She succinctly verbalized the aesthetic choices women make daily, actively enriching their lives with creativity.

Mukta began her treatment of the levels of visual decision by focusing on the beauty of the actual piece of adornment. The item of jewelry or clothing, she said, must be good-looking. She likes to change her jewelry often, and, like most married women in Banaras, she buys new glass bangles regularly. But unlike others, Mukta also changes her nath (nose ring), bichiya (toe rings), and payal (anklets) with frequency; she finds it fun to vary her “compulsory” jewelry.

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2. Idoma Warriorhood and the Pax Britannica

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub



Ichahoho olébè òche (Ichahoho eats [the meat of] human beings)!

—War cry formerly sung by the Ichahoho mask, Ekpari clan, Akpa District

By contrast with that of the East African pastoralists, Idoma warriorhood in central Nigeria was inscribed within a much more widespread and formulaic colonizing discourse: barbarism that had to be eradicated in order to bring civilization in Africa. David Livingstone, the nineteenth century’s most popular explorer-missionary, summed up the more benign representation of this civilizing mission: “We come upon them as members of a superior race and servants of a God that desires to elevate the more degraded portions of the human family” (Jeal 1973, 382).1 Frederick Lugard, the great architect of British colonial policy, justified colonization much more graphically fifty years later:

The South [in Nigeria] was, for the most part, held in thrall by Fetish worship and the hideous ordeals of witchcraft, human sacrifice, and twin murder. The great Ibo race to the East of the Niger … and their cognate tribes [e.g., Idoma] had not developed beyond the stage of primitive savagery. In the West, the Kingdom of Benin—like its counterpart in Dahomey—had up to 1897 groaned under a despotism which revelled in holocausts of human victims for its Fetish rites. (Lugard 1919/1968, 56)

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Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF


TRANSITION: 1949–1957

u  u  u

Houston, 1949–1957

I went to Greenwich Village very early and found I didn’t have anything in common with the people there… I felt that if I had anything to say, I would have to say it in the South. I wanted to come where I felt the black people’s roots really are—and they are in the South.

—John Thomas Biggers, quoted in Felts and Moon,

“Artist Series: An Interview with John Biggers”

Fig. 2.1

Artist at Texas

Southern University,


John Biggers returned to his roots in the South in 1949, when he agreed to come to Houston from Pennsylvania State University to establish an art department at

Texas State College for Negroes. (The college became Texas Southern University in 1951.) Dr. R. O’Hara Lanier, the president of Texas Southern, was a Hampton

Institute alumnus who was already familiar with Biggers’s work. Through the suggestion of Susan McAshan, a prominent patron of the arts in Houston, Lanier offered Biggers the position at the college. As Biggers remembered: “While I was still at Penn State, Jim Dorsey, the dean of the division of fine arts at Texas Southern, called from Texas and said they’d like to have something of mine for the opening ceremony at the new Julius C. Hester

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13 Rhetorics of Resistance: The Port Huron Project

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub


When I started teaching at Brown University in 2005, I was surprised by how little antiwar protest there was on campus. Brown has a long history of student activism: the eruptions of 1968 culminated in Brown’s adoption of progressive new curriculum drafted by students, and in 1985 students erected shanties and staged hunger strikes to protest the university’s investments in companies doing business in South Africa. It was clear that my students objected to American involvement in Iraq and the Bush administration’s disregard for civil liberties, but they seemed to believe that resistance was futile. It is not hard to imagine why. In 2000 they witnessed a presidential election that many believed had been stolen. In 2003 many students participated in the largest antiwar protests in history (the BBC estimated that six to ten million people in sixty countries protested the imminent invasion of Iraq on February 15 and 16 of that year), but the Bush and Blair administrations were undeterred.1 In 2004 many students worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign only to see George W. Bush reelected by a narrow margin amid accusations of voting fraud. Their formative political experiences had left them demotivated, if not cynical.

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FIVE Modest Bodies, Stylish Selves: Fashioning Virtue in Niger • ADELINE MASQUELIER

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

You must cover your body because it is God’s command. God will send angels to light up the graves of women who cover their heads with veils.

—Izala preacher, Dogondoutchi, 1994

According to a hadīth, the woman who does not veil will never smell the smell of paradise. [ . . . ] Every time she comes out of her home uncovered, she shares the sins of all the men who look at her.

—Izala preacher, Dogondoutchi, 2006

In the early 1990s a wave of religious fervor swept through Niger, promoting the development of a “heightened self-consciousness” (Eickelman and Piscatori 1996:39) about what it meant to be Muslim. The sharpening of Muslim identity in turn translated into an unprecedented focus on dress codes and the fashioning of modest personae. Members of an emerging anti-Sufi reformist movement known colloquially as Izala1 insisted that local male and female garb be modified. While they urged men to shed their voluminous riguna (robes) in favor of the jaba—a tunic worn over short-hemmed pants, they were especially keen to ensure that women concealed their bodies from head to ankles. Women wearing “skimpy” attire were harassed, and occasionally attacked, for exposing their state of undress and by implication, their lack of religious engagement. The modesty of a “true” Muslim’s attire was a measure of her virtue, Izala preachers declared, as they grew beards and put on turbans.

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15. The Wedding

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

ON A STEAMY JULY evening in 1996, a small gathering of people sat in plastic chairs on the lawn of a five-star hotel in the Mughal city of Lucknow, waiting for the ceremony to begin. The bride, Shalini Shrivastava, looked beautiful as she emerged, accompanied by her younger sister, Nidhi. Shalini wore a magenta silk lehanga and covered her head modestly with the dupatta, surrounding her pretty face in bright, soft fabric. She wore the customary gold jewelry; the golden hathphul on her hands glittered in the flash of the cameras. Shalini approached the platform where her groom, Rohit, waited, dressed in a turban and an off-white suit with a long Nehru jacket, called a shervani.1 The couple exchanged flower garlands to the applause of their family and friends. A rich meal followed, after which most of the guests went home. Only the immediate family and a few close friends remained for the Hindu ceremony that continued into the night, during which the pundit, with Vedic chants in Sanskrit, united the young couple in eternal matrimony.

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2 Nubia in Paris: African Style in French Fashion

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

Our natives, adopting the manners and habits of Europeans, are beginning more and more, especially in important urban centers, to dress in the European manner—in short, to follow our fashions.

—“La soie artificielle et nos colonies,” pamphlet promoting the French Syndicate of Artificial Textile Manufacturers, Exposition Coloniale Internationale, Paris, 1931

It seems to us that [these African fabrics] can provide, each and every one, useful sources of inspiration. In every era, designers have turned to the Orient to revitalize their enthusiasm. Didn’t Rabelais write (after Pliny): ‘There is always something new out of Africa’?

—Henri Clouzot, Tissus Nègres, Paris, 1931

Far from Mali’s Inland Niger Delta, European dress innovators have produced garments we might call African-esque fashion, part of a long history of European involvement with both real and imagined Africas. Just as the dress innovators who produced distinctive styles of Malian embroidery incorporated forms rooted in North Africa or South Asia, so too have European designers sought inspiration beyond the familiar. Although Malian migrant laborers and pious embroiderers may seem a world away from Parisian fashion designers, all are driven by the same impulse to create dress styles that reflect changing influences and new ideas. Both during and after the colonial era, Africa has been a key source of imagery, drawn from actual African forms or from Western imaginings of Africa. These designers’ “Africanisms” are an important element of the story of African fashion, for they both reflect and actively shape the perceptions—and misperceptions—that undergird representations of Africa in international contexts. This construction of an imagined Africa through dress continues into the present, maintaining surprising consistency across decades of political and cultural change. Thus, these invented Africas contribute an important subplot to the story of African fashion.

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11. Neelam Chaturvedi

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

WHEN I FIRST TALKED to Neelam Chaturvedi in the spring of 1996, she was an art teacher in the Sunbeam private school in Banaras. Unlike Nina, a Sindhi living in a Sindhi household, Neelam is a Punjabi married into a Brahmin family from Banaras. Being born in India to Punjabi parents who were displaced from their native Pakistan, Neelam has developed an adaptive personal style. Constant adjustment to different contexts is a main theme of her choices in life and adornment, a pattern evident in our interviews. My main tape-recorded conversations with her, which lasted several hours, took place in Neelam’s bedroom, upstairs in her mother-in-law’s house a few blocks from the vast red temple dedicated to Durga in Banaras.1

When she was growing up in Banaras, Neelam spoke Punjabi at home with her parents, yet she was exposed to Hindi at school and to the local Bhojpuri dialect of the servants. Neelam learned Hindi and Bhojpuri, and, though she was scolded for speaking these ill-regarded languages in the presence of her parents, she grew up speaking what she calls a “mix” of languages. Her shifting between Punjabi and Hindi, choosing one or the other in different contexts, is like the double-coding used by immigrant children who grow up in America, adapting and conforming to two cultures simultaneously.

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