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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cinema, Bell Bottoms, and Miniskirts: Struggles Over Youth and Citizenship in Revolutionary Zanzibar
Author:Burgess, Thomas
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Zanzibar
History and Exploration
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Politics and Government
Abstract:After the 1964 Revolution in Zanzibar, all citizens were supposed to be fully engaged in the construction of a new revolutionary society. Through the 1960s and 1970s, however, the political elite continued to tolerate the daily showing of Western films in the capital that paid no deference to socialist development or Islamic standards of decency. Zanzibari moviegoers were particularly impressed by the appearance of film actors dressed according to the latest Western fashions (miniskirts, bell bottoms). Such images were immediately influential on young people. This article argues that as political leaders sought to construct a revolutionary society, they provoked conflict with young people whose appearance was not sufficiently recognizable as African, socialist or Muslim. It discusses how nationbuilding as an ideology lost meaning in a deteriorating urban environment where young people in particular lacked 'productive' work. In this context Western cinema emerged as a primary escape, as well as an inspiration for clothing styles. The article then examines the reasons why the new fashions provoked official anxieties. Finally, it describes how the ruling party mobilized against unsanctioned styles in order to defend revolutonary concepts of visual order, discipline and citizenship. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]