P155
Un/making difference through performance and mediation in contemporary Africa
Convenors:
Heike Becker (University of the Western Cape)
Dorothea Schulz (University of M√ľnster)
Discussant:
1. Hauke Dorsch 2. Karin Barber (University of Birmingham)
Location:
C4.06
Start time:
27 June, 2013 at 14:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

The panel will explore modes of mobilizing culture through a focus on performance. We ask how categories of social, cultural and religious difference in contemporary African societies are created, reproduced, contested and mediated through performance and the materiality of cultural forms.

Long abstract:

From the unprecedented revival of cultural and religious identities across post-apartheid South Africa to the threats posed by Islamist groups in parts of West Africa, Africa currently experiences a resurgence of politics of difference. Such politics appear to have in common the ability to produce and sustain identities. The preoccupation with identity and politics of difference has often been associated with the revival of political liberalism and the rise of neoliberalism after the end of the cold war. Our contention is that in order to comprehend what makes people feel difference, and its flipside similarity, to be true, authentic and real we also need new directions in the study of the making and unmaking of cultural and religious difference on the everyday level. We propose to explore modes of mobilizing culture through a focus on performance. We ask how categories of social, cultural and religious difference in contemporary African societies are created, reproduced, contested, reconfigured and mediated through performance and the materiality of cultural forms. More specifically, how do performances, understood broadly as symbolic enactments through people as well as mediating objects such as creative texts, art, film, photography, or architecture, facilitate sensorial and embodied experience of difference on the one hand, or sharing and unmaking of difference on the other? Furthermore, how are aesthetic, sensorial and embodied styles implied in contestations over religious, national, gendered, racialised, ethnicised embodied identities? We invite paper proposals on aesthetics, politics and difference from Southern, East and West Africa.