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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Writing the history of art music in Africa: a case of symbolic interactionism
Author:van Rhyn, Chris
Periodical:Critical Arts: A Journal of Media Studies (ISSN 1992-6049)
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:music history
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02560046.2016.1187790
Abstract:There are two pertinent issues with regard to written histories of art music in Africa. First, the non-existence of written histories, and second, deficiencies in existing literature. A categorisation of literary tropes - contemporary hagiography, the self-promotion of difference, and the self-promotion of prescribed Africanisation - which the author arguea bars African scholarship on art music from partaking in global discourses, is presented in the first part of the article. These nationalist historiographical practices are read as acts of strategic essentialism. In the second part the author presents a problematisation in the context of the material archive, using the ethnography of his visit to the collection of modern African music at Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany, as the point of reference. From this he concludes that the promotion of the intellectual ownership of knowledge on Africa by Africa should serve a much greater purpose than the symbolic act of postcolonial restoration of simply transferring physical ownership of archives. Finally, the author explains how strategic essentialism and the transfer of the physical ownership of archives can both be understood as exercises in symbolic interactionism. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]