Accepted paper:

Art, materiality and sociality: Incorporation, extirpation and contestation


Charles Gore (SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

Following Evans Pritchards famous well-known adage that "People not only create their material culture and attach themselves to it, but also build up their relationships through it and see themselves in terms of it" (Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, 1940, p.85), this paper considers considers three casestudies of how art and its materialities build up relationships, sometimes of mutuality; but also use them to extirpate social relations and thereby rewrite local histories; or to contest and destabilise them.

Paper long abstract:

The first casestudy considers how in Benin City a local government area chairman is inducted into new social relationships that promise wealth for all parties; the second considers how the Oba of Benin removes some artefacts and destroys materialities to extirpate particular given social relations that have been presumed to underscore his kingshipand, and in so doing, rewrite local dynastic histories; while the final case considers how a contemporary modern artist in referencing the riverine conflicts of southern Nigeria in a visual art perfomance unsettles the exercise of local power and is incarcerated temporarily. In all three cases what is done with the art and its materialities has wider social and political implications within the Nigerian nation state where protagonists seek personalised relations to extend networks and to extract resources.

panel P012
Dis/enchantment and the popular arts in Nigeria