“’Cause this is Africa”: Contesting Visual, Sonic, and Performed Representations of Africa in Paris, Montreal, and the 2010 South African World Cup
Day, Julia G.
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines ways in which representations of contemporary Africa are created, perpetuated, subverted, and reinforced through African popular music in Paris, France, Montreal, Canada, and the 2010 World Cup Games in South Africa. As a response to the notion established by scholars such as Achille Mbembe (2001) and Kofi Agawu (2003) who assert that postcolonial discourse on Africa creates a binary that reinforces the otherness of Africa, I suggest that the notion of Afropolitanism provides an alternative approach to understanding representations of contemporary Africa in a way that recognizes the multiplicities of transnational identities and cultural products without writing out the importance of the African continent. I view the artists whose music I analyze as contributors, whether intentionally or not, to a sense of Afropolitanism that straddles multiple levels of representation in a single event. I ultimately argue that representation of contemporary Africa is complex and that Afropolitanism as a framework recognizes the complexities of these representations. This dissertation highlights different approaches to representations of contemporary Africa through four case studies that, taken together, are the products of my multi-sited fieldwork and analysis of live performances, music videos, and popular songs. Drawing on scholarship from the fields of ethnomusicology, musicology, African studies, French and Francophone studies, and immigration studies, I posit that African immigrants subvert the established power of representation by asserting representations of themselves in a way that departs from the prevalent narratives set in place. Furthermore, I find that prestigious cultural institutions also represent African music and performance in ways that, while temporary, demonstrate an idealized approach to integrating African minorities into the cultural identity of the majority culture in a way that is hopeful for the future, yet does not recast the established status quo. Visual, sonic, and performed representations of Africa provide insight into the contemporary approaches to cultural pluralisms in Paris and Montreal resulting from ongoing trends of incoming immigrants from Africa. Stakes are high for those who are the focus of representations as global movements of African individuals and cultural products can be perceived as a threat to the majority cultures in Paris and Montreal, especially as the demographics of these cities become more diverse.
- Music