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Author: Timothy Insoll

Abstract

Twelve species of marine shell were transported in significant quantities from the Red Sea to the trade centre of Harlaa in eastern Ethiopia between the eleventh and early fifteenth centuries AD. Initially, it was thought that species such as the cowries were imported from the Indian Ocean. Subsequent research has found that all were available from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, c. 120 km east of Harlaa. This suggests that a hitherto largely unrecognised source of marine shells was available, and the Red Sea might have supplied not only the Horn of Africa, but other markets, potentially including Egypt, and from there, elsewhere in North Africa and ultimately West Africa via trans-Saharan routes, as well as Nubia and further south on the Nile in the Sudan, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Arabian/Persian Gulf. This is explored with reference to the shell assemblage from Harlaa, and selected shell assemblages from elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, and trading centres on the Red Sea.

In: Journal of African Archaeology
Volume Editor: Catherine F. Botha
In African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics, Catherine F. Botha brings together original research on the body in African cultures, specifically interrogating the possibilities of the contribution of a somaesthetic approach in the context of colonization, decolonization, and globalization in Africa.

The innovative contributions that consider the somaesthetic dimensions of experience in the context of Africa (centred broadly around the themes of politics, feminisms, and cultures) reflect a diversity of perspectives and positions. The book is a first of its kind in gathering together novel and focused analyses of the body as conceived of from an African perspective.

Abstract

Regarding the history of Borgu (North Benin), well-known events are the legend of Kisra, the war of Ilorin (1835-1836), and the destruction of the city named Niyanpangu. Referred to as Niyanpangu-bansu after its destruction, this archaeological site is known mostly from oral tradition and is located approximately three hundred kilometers west of Nikki (northeast Benin Republic). It has great historical significance which could contribute to our understanding of the history of caravan trade in northern Benin. This paper presents the results of the first ever archaeological research on the site in 2013 and 2014.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Decisions related to the production of lithic technology involve landscape-scale patterns of resource acquisition and transport that are not observable in assemblages from any one single site. In this study, we describe the stone artifacts from a discrete cluster of stone artifacts assigned to the Robberg technocomplex (22-16 ka) at the open-air locality of Uitspankraal 9 (UPK9), which is located near two major sources of toolstone in the Doring River catchment of Western Cape, South Africa. OSL dating of the underlying sediment unit provides a terminus post quem age of 27.5 ± 2.1 ka for the assemblage. Comparison of near-source artifact reduction at UPK9 with data from three rock shelter assemblages within the Doring watershed – Putslaagte 8 (PL8), Klipfonteinrand Rock Shelter (KFR), and Mertenhof Rock Shelter (MRS) – suggests that “gearing-up” with cores and blanks occurred along the river in anticipation of transport into the wider catchment area. The results reveal an integrated system of technological supply in which raw materials from different sources were acquired, reduced, and transported in different ways throughout the Doring River region.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

In this introductory chapter to the collection, Catherine Botha explores the major themes that are covered in the volume, and links them to the idea of an African somaesthetics as provocation. She explores how the work of one contemporary South African artist, Nandipha Mntambo, and specifically her Europa (2012) can be read as a somaesthetic commentary on the way in which bodies are subject to the male, white gaze in the context of the colonial past and present.

In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics
In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to study the film “Black Panther” as a contribution to the black aesthetic tradition and as a form of somaesthetic exploration. Our argument is that the film uses somatic aesthetics, and particularly somaesthetics, to provide a counter-hegemonic depiction of Black bodies and to explore the lived experiences of Black bodies in motion. We begin with three commitments that are central to the argument: that there is a Black aesthetic tradition, that somatic aesthetics is a coherent and internally complex field of inquiry within that tradition, and that the idea of Africa often gets mobilized as a resource for African American racial(izing) projects. From that theoretical basis, we provide our reading of the film’s experiential argument, beginning with the film’s counter-hegemonic representation of black beauty and movement, and then using Fred Moten’s description of intermodal transfer to present a racial-kinaesthetic reading of a pivotal set of scenes from the film. In particular, we emphasize the important role that the embodied kinaesthetic experiences of black women play in these scenes and throughout the film. We conclude that “Black Panther” presents an innovative, if imperfect, attempt to navigate the somatic aesthetic problem-space in the Black aesthetic tradition.

In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics
In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics
In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics

Abstract

This chapter reflects on the persistent and blatant exclusions within the sphere of art and culture in South Africa by examining the recent cultural activism (2014) of the Tokolos Stencil Collective. It analyses the latter’s specific activist means such as the deployment of human excreta, obscene language and imagery, and a highly partisan posture. The latter are interpreted against the background of the struggles waged by South Africa’s black poor, as well as on-going, decolonial student protests. An unrelenting drive toward desublimation and anti-conformism is further identified as one of Tokolos’s key activist procedures and is contrasted to more playful and sophisticated, yet more harmless modes of cultural contestation in contemporary South Africa. The chapter argues, finally, that Tokolos’s activism can be productively conceived within Dave Beech’s and John Roberts’s theorisation of the philistine, albeit after discounting some of the latter’s contextual limitations and conceptual biases. Tokolos’s popular, philistine brand of cultural politics is found to be highly effective in calling out South Africa’s cultural and art institutions for their complicity in maintaining social, cultural and spatial divisions.

In: African Somaesthetics: Cultures, Feminisms, Politics