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Another FaCTS Mellon Project

The History of Popular Culture in Africa

by Dr. Steven J. Salm

This project creates a new course within the department of history that
focuses on the development of African popular culture forms and their
connections with local and global processes of cultural production and
consumption. The History of Popular Culture in Africa is a trans-national,
multicultural course that traces the development of popular culture genres
in Africa since the late 19th century, a history that uncover popular
culture forms that both reflected and acted upon their contemporary
political, economic, and social environment. In Africa, the production of
popular culture is a uniquely urban phenomenon that has relied on the
incorporation of local and global cultural elements from the African
continent, as well as from Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, and
Brazil. A study of popular culture, therefore, provides an insightful look
into the core values of dynamic generations of urban Africans from the late
19th century, when the first African American minstrel groups traveled to
South Africa, to the ubiquitous and diverse African Hip Hop cultures of
today. An important goal in teaching themes related to global cultures is
not just to impart the knowledge of other places and peoples but also to get
students to see issues of cultural production and consumption from
perspectives other than their own. What better way to accomplish this than
to engage students in a discussion of popular culture, particularly popular
culture forms that rely on increasingly global political, technological, and
economic structures infused into local urban communities? The study of
popular culture in the context of history allows for innovative teaching
methods that actively engage students in the course materials and create new
outlets for creative and critical thinking.

URL: /initiatives/facts/2009/Salm.pdf

Start date: Monday, May 11, 2009
Finish date: Tuesday, May 11, 2010