Fall 2008

Africa: Power and Representation


Miriam R. Goheen (Section 01)


The right to represent oneself has always been an important piece of symbolic capital and a source of power. External representations of Africa have consistently distorted and misinterpreted the peoples and cultures of the continent. Within Africa, this right-to produce and display particular images-has been inseparable from both secular and sacred power. The discrepancy in interpretation of various images, whether these are in the form of visual objects or in the form of philosophies or concepts, has produced a misunderstanding of African institutions and art. In addition, historically the right to represent and claim one’s identity has become increasingly politicized. Control over various representations and images of Africa and things African has become contested. Using an interdisciplinary focus from the fields of art history, history and anthropology, this course will examine representations and interpretations of images of Africa both from within and from outside the continent. Ultimately we will link these with various forms of power and legitimacy to consider the complexity behind the development of an idea of Africa. Fall semester. Professor Goheen.