P012
Dis/enchantment and the popular arts in Nigeria

Convenors:
David Pratten (Oxford University)
Will Rea (Leeds University)
Chair:
Juliet Gilbert (University of Birmingham)
Format:
Panels
Location:
SOAS Senate House - S108
Start time:
2 June, 2018 at 16:30
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This panel invites papers that examine the popular arts in Nigeria. By engaging with a framing of enchantment and disenchantment the panel explores how performative and plastic arts celebrate and critique the signature features of the African petro-state.

Long abstract:

How do the popular arts reflect a dialectic of enchantment and disenchantment with the Nigerian petro-state? In what ways do the popular arts celebrate its profits and politics, and critique its inequalities and injustices? Enchantment and disenchantment offer multivalent concepts from art, religion and politics with which to frame an investigation into the anthropology of Nigerian arts. The conceptual dialectic of enchantment and disenchantment plays across a number of registers - enchantment in relation to the oil economy operates in terms of the magical state, and discourses of progress and excess. It relates to a moral economy of spiritual practices connecting to the fetishistic qualities of oil (Watts 2004). Enchantment also operates in Gell's (Gell 1992) sense in relation to cultural production and the 'technologies' of art offering a system of persuasion celebrating the existing patrimonial social order. Disenchantment too is multivalent. It has a powerful conceptual lineage associated with rationalisation and secularisation (Bourdieu 1979). It can stand for critique, protest, and violence. It can mark a temporal moment - after-enchantment, post-boom, post-oil, eco-criticism. This contrast between enchantment and disenchantment finds a particular resonance in the study of popular arts shaped by the logics of an oil economy. How do the popular arts interrogate the spectacle, illusion, corruption and violence associated with the Nigerian political economy? Is the popular culture of oil a protest culture? Can we demonstrate the role of political ecology on cultural creativity?