Accepted Paper:

The Urban African Space and Its Marginal Literatures/Performances: Questioning the Continued Peripherality of African Popular Arts  


Izuu Nwankwo (Johannes Gutenberg University)

Paper short abstract:

Popular artistic expressions remain largely understudied even when they predominantly represent contemporary urban/rural tastes. By exploring these texts (erotica and stand-up jokes), the paper identifies ways in which they are dominant despite remaining at the periphery within the academy.

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary urban tastes (sometimes, a transmutation of rural trends) has in many ways affected and altered the creation and reception of arts in Africa. While this establishes the symbiotic relationship African arts share with sociology and anthropology, it does not justify the continued marginality of popular genres like stand-up comedy, eroticas and reality shows which rarely get attention even when they have become increasingly more preferred than their mainstream others. By interrogating the deployment of popular narrative styles/subjects in Okey Udenwe's Holy Sex: A Church Erotica, and the stand-up routines of Bright Okpocha (stage name, Basket Mouth); this paper problematizes the understudy of these genres and their likes in the academy, and seeks to re-position them out of peripheral spaces. In its use of potpourri theories, the essay harvests Jacques Derrida's and Judith Butler's deconstructionist idea of iterability in teasing out the grafting of rural traits in urban settlements within the texts; and deploys Homi Bhabha's concepts of hybridity and "third space" in designating how these artistic productions are new in themselves, and continue to create newer urban cultures.

This paper was developed in collaboration with Ifeyinwa Okolo.

Panel P173
The Urban African Space and Its Marginal Literatures/Performances