Music, Modernity, and the Global Imagination: South Africa and the West

Overview

How was Africa seen by the West during the colonial period? How do Europeans and Americans conceive of Africa in today's postcolonial era? Such questions have preoccupied anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars for years. But few have asked the reverse: how did—and do—Africans see Europe and the United States? Fewer still have wondered how Western images of Africa and African representations of the West might mirror one another.

In a detailed study spanning from the ...

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Overview

How was Africa seen by the West during the colonial period? How do Europeans and Americans conceive of Africa in today's postcolonial era? Such questions have preoccupied anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars for years. But few have asked the reverse: how did—and do—Africans see Europe and the United States? Fewer still have wondered how Western images of Africa and African representations of the West might mirror one another.

In a detailed study spanning from the late nineteenth century to the present, renowned anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Veit Erlmann examines the very creation of a global imagination for black South Africans, Europeans, and African Americans. To this end, he explores two striking episodes in the history of black South African music. The first is a pair of tours made by two black South African choirs in England and America in the early 1890s; the second is a series of engagements with the international music industry as experienced by the premier choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo after the release of Paul Simon's celebrated Graceland album in 1986.

Readers will find the cast of characters involved in these intertwined and international dramas at once telling and impressive. Among the many players are African National Congress co-founder Saul Msane, Queen Victoria, African-American musician and impresario Orpheus McAdoo, Xhosa Christian prophet Ntsikana, W. E. B. Du Bois, Michael Jackson, and Spike Lee. Music, Modernity, and the Global Imagination tells the story of how these artists, activists, and agents effectively invented each other in travel diaries, religious hymns, concert performances, music videos, Broadway plays, and autobiographies. Erlmann also argues that the resultant mixture of myths and fictions—as distinctly imagined by these diverse historical actors—entangled South Africa and the West in ways that often obscured the newly emergent global imbalances of power, or else blurred the polarities of the colonial and postcolonial world.

Ultimately, this book reports on a transatlantic dialogue that carries direct and profound implications for the world's arts and cultures. It is the black diasporic discussion between South Africa and the West, and it is a conversation—about society, music, and Utopia—that is still in progress.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195123678
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Lexile: 1750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Veit Erlmann studied musicology, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy in Berlin and Cologne, obtaining a Ph.D. in 1978. He has since done fieldwork in several African countries, and has taught at the University of Natal, the University of Chicago, the University of Witwatersrand, and the Free University of Berlin. He is currently Professor and Endowed Chair in the School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Pt. I "Heartless Swindle": The African Choir and the Zulu Choir in England and America 11
1 Archaic Images, Utopian Dreams: Forms of Nineteenth-Century Historical Consciousness 15
2 "Style Is Just the Man Himself": (Auto)Biography, Self-Identity, and Fictions of Global Order 32
3 Inventing the Metropolis: Josiah Semouse's Travel Diary and the Dilemmas of Representation 59
4 "Spectatorial Lust": Spectacle and the Crisis of Imperial Knowledge 86
5 Symbols of Inclusion and Exclusion: Nationalism, Colonial Consciousness, and the "Great Hymn" 111
6 Variations upon a Theme: The Zulu Choir in London, 1892-93 133
7 "God's Own Country": Black America, South Africa, and the Spirituals 144
8 Interlude 165
Pt. II "Days of Miracle and Wonder": Graceland and the Continuities of the Postcolonial World 167
9 Figuring Culture: The Crisis of Modernity and Twentieth-Century Historical Consciousness 173
10 Hero on the Pop Chart: Paul Simon and the Aesthetics of World Music 179
11 Fantasies of Home: The Antinomies of Modernity and the Music of Ladysmith Black Mambazo 199
12 Dream Journeys: Techniques of the Self and the Biographical Imagination of Bhekizizwe J. Shabalala 214
13 Songs of Truth and Healing: Searching for a New South Africa 234
14 Communities of Style: Musical Figures of Black Diasporic Identity 246
15 Dances with Power: Michael Jackson, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the Ambiguities of Race 268
16 Epilogue: The Art of the Impossible 281
Notes 283
Index 308
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