The helmet-shaped mapiko masks of Mozambique have garnered admiration from African art scholars and collectors alike, due to their striking aesthetics and their grotesque allure. This book restores to mapiko its historic and artistic context, charting in detail the transformations of this masquerading tradition throughout the twentieth century.
Based on field research spanning seven years, this study shows how mapiko has undergone continuous reinvention by visionary individuals, has diversified into genres with broad generational appeal, and has enacted historical events and political engagements. This dense history of creativity and change has been sustained by a culture of competition deeply ingrained within the logic of ritual itself. The desire to outshine rivals on the dance ground drives performers to search for the new, the astonishing, and the topical. It is this spirit of rivalry and one-upmanship that keeps mapiko attuned to the times that it traverses.
In Step with the Times is illustrated with vibrant photographs of mapiko masks and performances. It marks the most radical attempt to date to historicize an African performative tradition.
Paolo Israel is a senior lecturer in history at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. He has written extensively about Mozambican expressive cultures, political ethnicity, and witchcraft.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Note on Language Introduction: Rhythms of Change Part One Directions Chapter 1: The War of Sexes The Colonial Library and Its Afterlife Chapter 2: Passage, Secrecy, Rivalry An Excursion into Anthropological Theory Part Two Cosmopolitanism (1917-62) Chapter 3: Meat Is Meat Modernism in the Aftermath of Slavery Chapter 4: Masters of Play Late-Colonial Aesthetics and Practice Chapter 5: Lowland Nights Ambivalence in the Face of Death Chapter 6: Migrant Tunes On the Threshold of Nationalism Part Three Revolution (1962-92) Chapter 7: Ten Years of War Shaping the People Chapter 8: Youth Power Villages, Festivals, and Rivals Chapter 9: Faceless Spirits The Rise and Fall of Feminist Masquerades Part Four After Socialism (1992-2009) Chapter 10: Don't Go Astray Democracy and Disorder Chapter 11: Puppets and Machetes Boys in a Wild World Epilogue: Resurrections Notes Glossary of Shimakonde Terms Mapiko Genres and Other Dance Genres Makonde Drums and Other Musical Instruments Bibliography Index