Jan 25, 2012

Symposium on African Cultural Patrimony at Stanford University

The issue of Africa's claim to its plundered cultural patrimony is becoming mainstreamed through several conferences and emergent publications. Stanford University's Ruth K. Franklin Symposium on the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas was this year devoted to the subject. The symposium featured presentations from renowned experts on cultural patrimony law such as KateFitz Gibbon and Emeritus Professor John Merryman (who literally wrote the book on this subject), and from scholars and museum personnel. I presented a paper (Who Owns Africa’s Cultural Heritage? Museums, African Cultural Patrimony and the Issue of Restitution) that made a case for the Edo Kingdom of Benin's claim over its looted cultural patrimony currently located in museums and private collections all over the world.

Picture: Visitors to the British Museums viewing examples of Benin bronze plaques.
Picture credit: The Guardian newspapers, UK.

"Making History": Lecture and Book Signing at MIA

 The Minneapolis Institute of Arts invited a presentation lecture and book signing on Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art. The event marked the first public presentation of my new book in the USA. I also reviewed some African artworks in the museum holdings, with particular focus on the MIA's collection of Benin artworks, which are in the process of being reinstalled.

Jan 20, 2012

Critical Interventions Number 8 is Published

Announcing the publication of

Critical Interventions Number 8: Special Issue on African Cinemas

Guest edited by Victoria Pasley, CI#8 focuses on African Cinemas through analysis of different contexts of film practices in Africa. The cinematic arts can be defined as the apex of a culture of visuality and it is not by chance that the moving image has become a key technology of narrative in the era of globalization. In this regard, African cinemas of different historical origins, discursive focus and aesthetic orientation are increasingly notable as key aspects of African visual and cultural experiences. The debate over what constitutes African cinemas occupies an important place in these developments, especially in light of the divide between auteur and populist traditions of African filmmaking that seem to divide neatly along colonial lines into Francophone, Anglophone and Lusophone cultures of African cinema. However, these categories do not adequately describe the divergent modes of practice evident in how such cinemas are located in the global economy, where transnational engagements defeat the essentialist idea of a homogenous “Africa”. In this context, the classical definition of African cinema as a mode of practice that adheres to the auteur tradition of French filmmaking confronts the emergent example of Nollywood and related modes of film production that hew to Hollywood’s powerful business-oriented model with its global preeminence. These two contexts present two visions of African cinema that can sometimes seem totally divergent. However, as Kenneth Harrow concludes in his essay in this volume, the lines between the two modes of African cinema are collapsing.

This issue of Critical Interventions therefore investigates the history and disparate locales of African Cinemas through significant articles that take its transnational origins into consideration and also track changing definitions of African praxis within the global discourse of cinema. This jumbo edition of the journal features articles by Alexie Tcheuyap, Sheila Petty, Etienne-Marie Lassi, Kenneth Harrow, Amadou Fofana, Cara Duncan-Moyer, Alioune Sow, Scott M. Edmonson, Jonathan Shaw, Stefanie Van der Peer, Toni Pressley-Sanon, Mariam Konate Deme and Dramane Deme. It also features a republication of Teshome Gabriel’s seminal article— “Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Cinema”.

CI#8 Table of Contents

Editors’ Desk
Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie—Mediating Visions
Victoria Pasley—African Cinema

Alexie Tcheuyap—African Cinema(s): Definitions, Identity and Theoretical
Sheila Petty—Self-Styling Identities in Recent African Screen Media

Etienne-Marie Lassi—Worlds behind the World: Filming the Invisible in Francophone
Amadou Fofana—“Cinefication” in West Africa
Cara Moyer-Duncan—New Directions, No Audiences: Independent Black Filmmaking in
Post-Apartheid South Africa
Alioune Sow—Malian Cinema and the Question of Military Power
Scott M. Edmondson—Akan-esque Niches and Riches: The Aesthetics of Power and
Fantastic Pragmatism in Ghanaian Video Films
Jonathan Shaw—Filming Kivu, Speaking Nande: Kabale Syahgiganza and Making
Cinema in a Context of Conflict
Stefanie Van de Peer—The Physicalities of Documentaries by African Women: The
Case of Ateyyat El Abnoudy’s “Permissible Dreams and Responsible Women”
Toni Pressley-Sanon—Raoul Peck’s “The Man by the Shore”, Orality, Film and
Mariam Konate Deme and Dramane Deme—Aesthetic Imprints of an Epic Memory: A
Pan-African Reading of Three Filmic Tales

Kenneth W. Harrow—In Remembrance: Teshome Gabriel
Teshome Gabriel—Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Cinema
Jonathan Haynes—Nnebue: the Anatomy of Power

Kenneth W. Harrow—Toward a New Paradigm of African Cinema