Africa's Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self (African Expressive Cultures)

Africa's Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self (African Expressive Cultures)

By: Karin Barber (editor)Hardback

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Colonial Africa saw an explosion of writing and printing, produced and circulated not only by highly educated and visible elites, but also by wage labourers, clerks, village headmasters, traders, and other obscure aspirants to elite status. The ability to read and write in English was considered essential for educated persons, and Africans from all walks of life strove to participate in the new literary culture. Karin Barber and an international group of Africanist scholars have uncovered a trove of personal diaries, letters, obituaries, pamphlets, and booklets stored away in tin-trunks, suitcases, and cabinets that reveal individuals involved in the new occupation of the colonial era - putting pen to paper. "Africa's Hidden Histories" taps into rare primary sources and considers the profusion of literary culture, the propensity to collect and archive text, and the significance attached to reading as a form of self-improvement. As it explores the innovative, intense, and sociable interest in reading and writing, this book opens new avenues for understanding a rich and hidden history of Africa's creative expression.

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About Author

Karin Barber is Professor of African Cultural Anthropology at the University of Birmingham. She is author of The Generation of Plays (IUP, 2000), which won the Herskovits Award, and editor of Readings in African Popular Culture (IUP, 1997).


Introduction: Hidden Innovators in Africa Karin BarberPart 1. Diaries, Letters, and the Constitution of the Self1. "My Own Life": A. K. Boakye Yiadom's Autobiography--The Writing and Subjectivity of a Ghanaian Teacher-Catechist Stephan F. Miescher; 2. "What is our intelligence, our school going and our reading of books without getting money?" Akinpelu Obisesan and His Diary Ruth Watson; 3. The Letters of Louisa Mvemve Catherine Burns; 4. Ekukhanyeni Letter-Writers: A Historical Inquiry into Epistolary Network(s) and Political Imagination in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa Vukile Khumalo; 5. Reasons for Writing: African Working-Class Letter-Writing in Early-Twentieth-Century South Africa Keith Breckenridge; 6. Keeping a Diary of Visions: Lazarus Phelalasekhaya Maphumulo and the Edendale Congregation of AmaNazaretha Liz Gunner; 7. Schoolgirl Pregnancies, Letter-Writing, and "Modern" Persons in Late Colonial East Africa Lynn M. ThomasPart 2. Reading Cultures, Publics, and the Press8. Entering the Territory of Elites: Literary Activity in Colonial Ghana Stephanie Newell; 9. The Bantu World and the World of the Book: Reading, Writing, and "Enlightenment" Bhekizizwe Peterson; 10. Reading Debating/Debating Reading: The Case of the Lovedale Literary Society, or Why Mandela Quotes Shakespeare Isabel Hofmeyr; 11. "The present battle is the brain battle": Writing and Publishing a Kikuyu Newspaper in the PreMau Mau Period in Kenya Bodil Folke Frederiksen; 12. Public but Private: A Transformational Reading of the Memoirs and Newspaper Writings of Mercy Ffoulkes-Crabbe Audrey GadzekpoPart 3. Innovation, Cultural Editing, and the Emergence of New Genres13. Writing, Reading, and Printing Death: Obituaries and Commemoration in Colonial Asante T. C. McCaskie; 14. Writing, Genre, and a Schoolmaster's Inventions in the Yoruba Provinces Karin Barber; 15. Innovation and Persistence: Literary Circles, New Opportunities, and Continuing Debates in Hausa Literary Production Graham Furniss

Product Details

  • publication date: 25/07/2006
  • ISBN13: 9780253347299
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 464
  • ID: 9780253347299
  • weight: 785
  • ISBN10: 0253347297

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