Frieda Ekotto, Kenneth W. Harrow, and an international group of scholars set forth new understandings of the conditions of contemporary African cultural production in this forward-looking volume. Arguing that it is impossible to understand African cultural productions without knowledge of the structures of production, distribution, and reception that surround them, the essays grapple with the shifting notion of what "African" means when many African authors and filmmakers no longer live or work in Africa. While the arts continue to flourish in Africa, addressing questions about marginalization, what is center and what periphery, what traditional or conservative, and what progressive or modern requires an expansive view of creative production.
Highlighting what is melodramatic, flashy, low, and gritty in the characters, images, and plots of African cinema, Kenneth W. Harrow uses trash as the unlikely metaphor to show how these films have depicted the globalized world. Rather than focusing on topics such as national liberation and postcolonialism, he employs the disruptive notion of trash to propose a destabilizing aesthetics of African cinema. Harrow argues that the spread of commodity capitalism has bred a culture of materiality and waste that now pervades African film. He posits that a view from below permits a way to understand the tropes of trash present in African cinematic imagery.
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