Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance: The Invention of Cultural Identities in African, African-American, and Caribbean Drama

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Overview


This original work redefines and broadens our understanding of the drama of the English-speaking African diaspora. Looking closely at the work of Amiri Baraka, Nobel prize-winners Wole Soyinka and Derek Walcott, and Ntozake Shange, the author contends that the refashioning of the collective cultural self in black drama originates from the complex intersection of three discourses: Eurocentric, Afrocentric, and Post-Afrocentric.

From blackface minstrelsy to the Trinidad Carnival, from the Black Aesthetic to the South African Black Consciousness theatres and the scholarly debate on the (non)existence of African drama, Olaniyan cogently maps the terrains of a cultural struggle and underscores a peculiar situation in which the inferiorization of black performance forms is most often a shorthand for subordinating black culture and corporeality.

Drawing on insights from contemporary theory and cultural studies, and offering detailed readings of the above writers, Olaniyan shows how they occupy the interface between the Afrocentric and a liberating Post-Afrocentric space where black theatrical-cultural difference could be envisioned as a site of multiple articulations: race, class, gender, genre, and language.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An excellent job and...[a] must for students of African Literature."--V.Y. Mudimbe, Duke University.

"[This book] is destined to elevate comparative research on African Diaspora drama out of the sub-basement of scholarship. Olaniyan literally performs this transformation by his choice of authors, carefull attention to texts, and criticism informed broadly by a rich dialogue among contemporary cultural and literary theorists.... The argument is presented forcfully, at times eloquently, with a turn of phrase likely to be quoted in the future by other scholars."--Ve Ve Clark, University of California, Berkeley.

"A long overdue and very successful comparaitve approach to several of the most important contemporary Black playwrights. Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance offers a fascinating, ambitious, and challenging reading of modern pan-African drama as a specific conceptual formation and cultural practice. Drawing on a variety of contemporary critical languages, but equally conversant in the contestatory idioms of Negritude writers, Fanon, and their inheritors, Olaniyan illuminates not only the convergence of competing discourses and historical pressures that helped shape a distinctive pan-African theater, but forces reconsideration of the drama's "ambiguous" stagings of anticolonial and "post-Afrocentric" aspirations. Olaniyan's attention to subtle inflections of language and genre produce stimulating and persuasive readings of individual plays, and form the core of his vision of Black drama as an endless "reinvention" of postcolonial identities."--Kimberly W. Benston, Haverford College.

"The publication of this book marks the emergence of a major new intellect in the field of post-colonial studies."--Abiola Irele, The Ohio State University, and Editor, Research in African Literatures.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195094053
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1995
  • Pages: 208
  • Lexile: 1530L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Agones: The Constitution of a Practice 11
2 Difference, Differently 29
3 Wole Soyinka: "Race Retrieval" and Cultural Self-Apprehension 43
4 LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka: The Motion of History 67
5 Derek Walcott: Islands of History at a Rendezvous with a Muse 93
6 Ntozake Shange: The Vengeance of Difference, or The Gender of Black Cultural Identity 116
7 Subjectivities and Institutions 139
Notes 143
Bibliography 171
Index 191
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