Modernization as Spectacle in Africa

Modernization as Spectacle in Africa

Edited by Peter Jason Bloom, Stephen Miescher and Takyiwaa Manuh
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/09/2014
Format: Hardback 4 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01225-8
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For postcolonial Africa, modernization was seen as a necessary outcome of the struggle for independence and as crucial to the success of its newly established states. Since then, the rhetoric of modernization has pervaded policy, culture, and development, lending a kind of political theatricality to nationalist framings of modernization and Africans’ perceptions of their place in the global economy. These 15 essays address governance, production, and social life; the role of media; and the discourse surrounding large-scale development projects, revealing modernization's deep effects on the expressive culture of Africa.

Author Bio

Peter J. Bloom is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is editor (with Ch. Didier Gondola and Charles Tshimanga) of Frenchness in the African Diaspora (IUP, 2009).

Takyiwaa Manuh is Emeritus Professor of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. She is editor (with Catherine M. Cole and Stephan F. Miescher) of Africa after Gender? (IUP, 2006).

Stephan F. Miescher is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is author of Making Men in Ghana (IUP, 2005).


“How do people come to an awareness of being 'behind'? What is the value of huge industrial development projects? These essays show that local announcements of the modern, modernization, and modernity have had monumental consequences for Africa since independence.”
 — Donald Donham, University of California, Davis

“This is a varied collection of fifteen sole-authored chapters on modernization as spectacle, an area that has attracted little research to date . . . [A] good read.Feb. 2016”
 — Africa

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Modernization as Spectacle in Africa
Stephan F. Miescher, Peter J. Bloom, and Takyiwaa Manuh

Part I. Modernization and the Origins of the Package
1. After Modernization: Globalization and the African Dilemma
Percy C. Hintzen
2. Modernization Theory and the Figure of Blindness: Filial Reflections
Andrew Apter

Part II. Media, Modernity, and Modernization
3. Film as Instrument of Modernization and Social Change in Africa: The Long View
Rosaleen Smyth
4. Mass Education, Cooperation, and the "African Mind"
Aaron Windel
5. Is Propaganda Modernity? Press and Radio for "Africans" in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi during World War II and its Aftermath
Mhoze Chikowero
6. Elocution, Englishness, and Empire: Film and Radio in Late Colonial Ghana
Peter J. Bloom

Part III. Infrastructure and Effects
7. Negotiating Modernization: The Kariba Dam Project in the Central African Federation, c. 1954-1960
Julia Tischler
8. "No One Should Be Worse Off": The Akosombo Dam, Modernization, and the Experience of Resettlement in Ghana
Stephan F. Miescher
9. Radioactive Excess: Modernization as Spectacle and Betrayal in Postcolonial Gabon
Gabrielle Hecht

Part IV. Institutional Training in Nkrumah’s Ghana
10. Modeling Modernity: The Brief Story of Kwame Nkrumah, a Nazi Pilot Named Hanna, and the Wonders of Motorless Flight
Jean Allman
11. The African Personality Dances Highlife: Popular Music, Urban Youth, and Cultural Modernization in Nkrumah’s Ghana, 1957-1965
Nate Plageman
12. Building Institutions for the New Africa: The Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana
Takyiwaa Manuh

Part V. Modernization and the Literary Imagination
13. Theatre and the Politics of Display: The Tragedy of King Christophe at Senegal’s First World Festival of Negro Arts
Christina S. McMahon
14. Re-Engaging Narratives of Modernization in Contemporary African Literature