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Edited by Alain Ricard and Flora Veit-Wild

In the African context, there exists the ‘myth’ that orality means tradition. Written and oral verbal art are often regarded as dichotomies, one excluding the other. While orature is confused with ‘tradition’, literature is ascribed to modernity. Furthermore, local languages are ignored and literature is equated with writing in foreign languages. The contributions in this volume take issue with such preconceptions and explore the multiple ways in which literary and oral forms interrelate and subvert each other, giving birth to new forms of artistic expression. They emphasize the local agency of the African poet and writer, which resists the global commodification of literature through the international bestseller lists of the cultural industry. The first section traces the movement from oral to written texts, which in many cases coincides with a switch from African to European languages. But as the essays in the section on “New Literary Languages” make clear, in other cases a true philological work is accomplished in the African language to create a new written and literary medium. Through the mixing of languages in the cities, such as the Sheng spoken in Kenya or the bilinguality of a writer such as Cheik Aliou Ndao (Senegal), new idioms for literary expressions evolve. The use of new media, technology or music stimulate the emergence of new genres, such as Taarab in East Africa, radio poetry in Yoruba and Hausa, or Rap in the Senegal, as is shown in the section on “Forms of New Orality.”
It is a great achievement of this second volume of Versions and Subversions in African Literatures that it assembles contributions by scholars from the anglophone and the francophone world and that it covers literary production in a broad spectrum of languages: English, French, Hausa, Sheng, Sotho, Spanish, Swahili, Wolof and Yoruba.
Some of the authors and cultural practitioners treated in detail are: Mobolaij Adenubi, Birago Diop, Boubacar Boris Diop, David Maillu, Thomas Mofolo, Cheik Aliou Ndao, Donato Ndongo–Bidyogo, Hubert Ogunde, Shaaban Robert, Wole Soyinka, Ibrahim YaroYahaya, and Sénouvo Agbota Zinsou.

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Edited by Scott Reese

In a series of essays this collected volume challenges much of the conventional wisdom regarding the intellectual history of Muslim Africa. Ranging from the libraries of Early Modern Mauritania and Timbuktu to mosque lectures in contemporary Mombasa the contributors to this collection overturn many commonly accepted assumptions about Africa's Muslim learned classes. Rather than isolated, backward and out of touch, the essays in this volume reveal Muslim intellectuals as not only well aware of the intellectual currents of the wider Islamic world but also caring deeply about the issues facing their communities.

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Anne K. Bang

In the period c. 1880-1940, organized Sufism spread rapidly in the western Indian Ocean. New communities turned to Islam, and Muslim communities turned to new texts, practices and religious leaders. On the East African coast, the orders were both a vehicle for conversion to Islam and for reform of Islamic practice. The impact of Sufism on local communities is here traced geographically as a ripple reaching beyond the Swahili cultural zone southwards to Mozambique, Madagascar and Cape Town. Through an investigation of the texts, ritual practices and scholarly networks that went alongside Sufi expansion, this book places religious change in the western Indian Ocean within the wider framework of Islamic reform.

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Edited by Gearóid Barry, Enrico Dal Lago and Róisín Healy

This edited volume examines the experience of World War I of small nations, defined here in terms of their relative weakness vis-à-vis the major actors in European diplomacy, and colonial peripheries, encompassing areas that were subject to colonial rule by European empires and thus located far from the heartland of these empires. The chapters address subject nations within Europe, such as Ireland and Poland; neutral states, such as Sweden and Spain; and overseas colonies like Tunisia, Algeria and German East Africa. By combining analyses of both European and extra-European experiences of war, this collection of essays provides a unique comparative perspective on World War I and points the way towards an integrated history of small nations and colonial peripheries.
Contributors are Steven Balbirnie, Gearóid Barry, Jens Boysen, Ingrid Brühwiler, William Buck, AUde Chanson, Enrico Dal Lago, Matias Gardin, Richard Gow, Florian Grafl, Dónal Hassett, Guido Hausmann, Róisín Healy, Conor Morrissey, Michael Neiberg, David Noack, Chris Rominger, Danielle Ross and Christine Strotmann.

The Khōjā of Tanzania

Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity

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Iqbal Akhtar

The Khōjā of Tanzania, Discontinuities of a Postcolonial Religious Identity attempts to reconstruct the development of Khōjā religious identity from their arrival to the Swahili coast in the late 18th century until the turn of the 21st century. This multidisciplinary study incorporates Gujarati, Kacchī, Swahili, and Arabic sources to examine the formation of an Afro-Asian Islamic identity (jamatī) from their initial Indic caste identity (jñāti) towards an emergent Near Eastern imaged Islamic nation (ummatī) through four disciplinary approaches: historiography, politics, linguistics, and ethnology. Over the past two centuries, rapid transitions and discontinuities have produced the profound tensions which have resulted from the willful amnesia of their pre-Islamic Indic civilizational past for an ideological and politicized ‘Islamic’ present. This study aims to document, theorize, and engage this theological transformation of modern Khōjā religious identities as expressed through dimensions of power, language, space, and the body.