Art and Architecture in Postcolonial Africa


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About the Book

The struggle of African nations to achieve independence from colonial rule was a momentous event in world history, and among the most influential features of the postcolonial independence era was the art and architecture that it produced. With decolonization, Africa was thrust into nation building and into the related process of negotiating its cultures, integrating modernism while simultaneously sustaining regional traditions, and thereby producing a uniquely transitional art.
This work examines the complexity of popular artistic culture in the era of African nationalism, with a special focus on the influential independence era in Ghana. Chapters One and Two consider the ideologies of the Convention People’s Party and the National Liberation Movement in Ghana and their respective effects on artistic production. Chapters Three through Six discuss the relationship between architecture, museum exhibitions, and political displays and growing nationalist ideologies, revealing the extent to which African art continues to be a medium for political, social, and historical commentary. Chapter Seven investigates artistic practices associated with bodily expression and explores the manner in which these practices were influenced by postcolonial authority, while the final chapters focus on intangible forms of art, such as the communal performance, that characterize both African and diasporic art history.

About the Author(s)

Janet Berry Hess teaches African, African American, and American Indian culture and gender studies at the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University.

Bibliographic Details

Janet Berry Hess
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 92 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2076-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments       vii
Introduction      1

1. Exhibiting Ghana: Display, Documentary, and Spectacle in Ghana      17
2. Displaying Asante: Asante Ideology and Alternative Representations of the “Nation”      41
3. Imagining Architecture: The Structure of Nationalism in Accra      70
4. Imagining Architecture II: “Treasure Storehouses” and Constructions of Asante Hegemony      91
5. Envisioning Ujamaa: Architecture in Dodoma and Dar Es Salaam      114
6. Reversing the Gaze: Exhibition, Postapartheid Art and the Politics of Display      127
7. Representations of the Body in Postcolonial Africa      140
8. The Gaze, “Tradition,” and African Art History      155
9. Envoi: Expressive Culture and Performativity in the Diaspora      162

Conclusion      177
Chapter Notes      179
Bibliography      195
Index      203