Recycling: a paradigm of African cultural studies
Philip Amangoua Atcha, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny
Recycling is at the heart of any cultural enterprise. This is why contemporary culture gives a special place to recycling processes. Our recycling culture allows the artist to take his property from his neighbour. One of the particularities of African cultural studies is that they are based on the principle of recycling and reclaiming. The study sheds light on cultural studies and also offers a media reading of culture through cultural transfers.
Literature-world or literature-fashion? In praise of copying in Sami Tchak and Alain Mabanckou’s works
Adama Coulibaly, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny
This chapter examines literary or cultural recycling under the seal of fashion, artifice and inscription as a new aesthetic category. Far from a postulation of a theory of influences, the hypothesis is that the literary dynamics in which Sami Tchak and Alain Mabanckou are involved authorizes them to copy, recycle or even plagiarize techniques, practices and discursive configurations collected here and there. My purpose is to disobey all moralizing rights to try to identify a writing practice, an aesthetic category in its dynamics, in its prosody, far from the modern or modernist notion of ownership… The beauty of their works, among other justifications, stands out in a diachronic perspective that establishes artifice and fashion as fundamental features of their literary migration… We find ourselves with what Cornille (2008, 2011) called an aesthetic plagiarism. In this way, the world literature to which they are attached becomes much more a literature-fashion whose major mode would be the inscription of recovery, artifice, the ephemeral and consumption as the foundations of contemporary creation.In a comparative approach based on Alain Mabanckou’s Verre cassé (2005) and African Psycho (2003), and Sami Tchack’s Hermina (2003) and Place des fêtes (2001), I will show that the hyper-realism present in these novels, while problematizing an ambiguous reception with the African continent, is part of a contemporary trend of extreme motivation of the form where what some call world literature looks more like… a fashion literature.
African criticism: from self-regulation to systematization
Kaoum Boulama, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey
African art has developed its own evaluation system that has evolved since time immemorial. Indeed, storytelling, legends, popular music, etc., have improved thanks to the constant effort of the artists themselves, who never cease to bring a new touch to each performance. Thus a kind of self-evaluation has been established, which is the first form of criticism for African art in general. The magazine Présence Africaine, created in 1947, is part not only of an evaluation of African art but also of its promotion. From the first International Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris in 1956, the promotion of a more objective and broader evaluation that went beyond self-regulation began. The various other forums that have followed one another since Paris are all part of the perspective of setting up a real African criticism, more autonomous, which frees itself from Western criteria of appreciation of art. It was at the Yaoundé symposium held from 16 to 21 April 1973 that the foundations were laid for systematic African criticism, with evaluation guidelines that took into account the creative context on the black continent. Today, African art has a professional African critic who appreciates it based on the criteria that are beginning to emerge in the field of scientific research.
The sociology of short stories. Essay on « street writing » in the African context
David K. N’Goran, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny
The modalities of observation and understanding of « culture » have never clashed from the outset with the metaphorical certainties of a long quiet river. Following the embodiment of endless controversies, a series of schools, with their related conceptions, propose consecrated paradigms that can be said to constitute the traditional foundation of cultural studies. Overall, and to put it briefly, these cultural approaches are based on a methodology that gives pride of place to dominant culture as a representative postulate worthy of an absolute name. Even when they resort to the regime of the popular supposed to complete the definition of literary culture in particular, it cannot fail to refer to a modal item prescribed by the positivity of the summit. The purpose of this paper is to take the opposite path, distinguishing between « great » and « small stories » in literary studies and/or African cultural studies. It will therefore be a question here of postulating a sociology of small narratives, allowing for the actors of dominated cultural places, as well as objects of a subordinate literary nature (« street writings » for example), etc. to be taken into account. This imagination of small stories eventually changes the mapping of traditional institutions to the point of allowing the emergence of new ways of defining African literature in the 21st century.
African literature and reading as mediation. Reflections on the understanding of African cultures based on collective violence in the French-language novel
Isaac Bazié, Université du Québec à Montréal
The study of African cultures often involves the exhibition of African cultural practices and objects. This way of proceeding is entirely appropriate, at least in an epistemological tradition that has long underpinned Africa and its productions. The answer to these pejorative perceptions certainly lies in highlighting the richness of African cultures and literatures, but it also requires another approach: that of reflecting on the reading grids of African cultures. This contribution lays the theoretical foundations for a reading posture, considering reading as an act of mediation. The French-speaking African novel dealing with collective dramas serves as a place of experimentation for the purpose of defining this mediation. The resulting approach could later be applied to cultural objects, beyond the literature of violence.
For a taxonomy of bààtɔnù literary genres
Tatiana Dafia, LAREFA, University of Abomey-Calavi
As a privileged vehicle of cultures that create and practice it, oral literature is undoubtedly the partial memory and heritage of the group it expresses. Among the Bààtɔbù in northern Benin, as among all the peoples of black Africa, oral literature is manifested through the griots. They are the « people of the word » who create and transmit poetry, music and history from generation to generation through various words. Thus, consisting of several previously unexplored genres, bààtɔnù oral literature admits sacred oral literature and profane oral literature. The fundamental objective of this study is to establish a nomenclature of these different oral genres practised by the Bààtɔbù. Such an approach will surely make Benin’s oral literature more discernible and visible in all its diversity.
Polygamy in the arts in Africa: polyandry as a parody of polygyny
Aïssata Soumana Kindo, Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey
This contribution focuses on the analysis of the novel by Cameroonian Calixthe Beyala, Only the devil knew it and the Burkinabe film Abdoulaye Dao, Une femme pas comme les autres. These two works deal with the theme of marriage in general and a particular form of polygamy, polyandry. Indeed, Bertha Andela, known as the Lady Mother and Mina, the main characters of these works, are two singular women who have chosen to take co-spouses, second husbands therefore, despite all that this can have of shock and provocation in African societies where tradition is still prevalent. Although they come from different cultural environments (Central Africa/West Africa) and different social conditions (one is a peasant and the other is a CEO), Dame Maman and Mina have decided to no longer be silent about men’s law, but rather to assert themselves by breaking the usual codes. Conducted from a comparative angle, this study will first address the place of the theme of polygamy in the African novel and cinema, then the functioning of the trios and finally will make a reading of the choice of polyandry by the author and the filmmaker.
Masks, alliances and joking relatinships in Burkina Faso: verbal and non-verbal play
Alain Joseph Sissao, Institut des Sciences des Sociétés (INSS), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST) du Burkina Faso
In Burkinabe society, masks are cultural expressions intrinsic to each ethnic group. The moment of the removal of the masks involves the whole community, whether it is harvest time or other events such as funerals, initiations or moments of celebration. On these occasions, we notice that the appearance of the masks is a ritual but also a playful experience. The removal of masks is a total art that involves the whole culture. A specific category of masks jokes with some members of the audience, mimicking dance steps but also simulating violence with their whips to frighten some spectators. It can be said that these masks establish a joking relationship with spectators, social actors or the whole community. We will try to lay the foundations of this problem by looking for the different arguments that corroborate our hypothesis. We will explore, on the one hand, the elements of verbal play and, on the other hand, the elements of non-verbal play of the mask.