P081 – Art and Culture as a Platform of Mobilization of the African Youth and African Descent
10 July, 16:00 – 17:30

Raposo Otávio / CIES-IUL (Portugal)
Lima Redy Wilson / ISCJS (Cabo Verde); CEsA/ISEG-ULisboa (Portugal)


The collapse of the nationalist project of African development gave rise to veins of criticism of the regimes installed in that continent after the independencies. That inquietude arose particularly between the marginalized sectors of the urban youth. Many of those youngsters found in the artistic expressions an important tool for awareness and collective mobilization in the context of a greater role of the youth in exercising their citizenship rights. Also in the old European metropolises, sons of African immigrants appropriate art to reconfigure identities and produce lifestyles, sometimes subverting the dynamics of urban segregation, racism, poverty and violence. Influenced by the African Diaspora in the modernity, the hip-hop culture exemplifies the creative way the artistic language mobilizes the youths in the fight for rights and for better conditions of life. It works as a claiming area for several types of socio-political movements that marked the urban landscape in these last years. The aim of this panel is to debate research on the artistic expressions and/or urban cultures that have been featured by Africans (and their descendants) on their multiple connections with the social movements that turned cities around the world into stages of resistance.

Arte e cultura como plataforma de mobilização da juventude africana e afrodescendente
A falência do projeto nacionalista de desenvolvimento africano deu origem a correntes críticas aos regimes instalados naquele continente após as independências. Esse mal-estar manifestou-se particularmente entre os sectores marginalizados da juventude urbana. Muitos desses jovens encontraram nas expressões artísticas uma importante ferramenta de consciencialização e mobilização coletiva, no contexto de um maior protagonismo da juventude no exercício (e reclamação) dos direitos de cidadania. Também nas antigas metrópoles europeias, filhos de imigrantes africanos apropriam-se da arte para reconfigurar identidades e produzir estilos de vida, por vezes subvertendo as dinâmicas de segregação urbana, do racismo, da pobreza e da violência. Influenciada pela diáspora africana na modernidade, inicialmente apropriada e posteriormente “indigenizada”, a cultura hip-hop é exemplar do modo criativo como a linguagem artística mobiliza os jovens na luta por direitos e por melhores condições de vida, funcionando como espaço de reivindicação sociopolítica dos vários tipos de movimentos de protesto que marcaram a paisagem urbana nestes últimos anos. Pretende-se com esse painel debater pesquisas que tenham como objeto de estudo expressões artísticas e/ou culturas urbanas protagonizadas por africanos (ou seus descendentes) nas suas múltiplas conexões com os movimentos sociais que transformaram cidades em todo o mundo em palcos de resistência.

Paper 1

Bussotti Luca / International Studies Center ISCTE (Lisbon)

The representation of Africa and African migrants in Italian contemporary music

This paper aims at studying how Italian pop music approached Africa and African migrants since the end of the Second World War up date. This representation changed dramatically, especially starting from the Eighties, when African immigration in Italy became a relevant social phenomenon. The question the article wishes to analyze is to understand if and how these new representations and tendencies in Italian popular music have been helped Italian society in accepting and promoting the rights and the identities of this new Italian people. The research has been carried out through an analysis of a great sample of Italian popular songs having as their subject Africa or African migrants. So, it has been emphasized the words instead the music of the selected songs.

Paper 2

Forchu Ijeoma / University of Nigeria

African Hip Hop Music: A Tool for Collective Mobilization

African youth, like their counterparts all over the world expend a lot of time listening to music. This is because there is an increased demand for mood regulation at this age and music which fulfills this function comes in handy as it is readily and easily available. Hip hop music is generally their favourite.
Hip hop music is one of the most globally practiced genres of all time. It developed in the Bronx, New York city, from the hip hop culture of the African and Jamaican Americans. This culture manifested itself through rap music, (a highly rhythmical style of speaking-singing delivery of poetry over a strong rhythmical instrumental accompaniment), break-dancing and graffiti art. It is also associated with characteristic dress codes. This paper proposes that mobilization could be carried out using aspects of hip hop music such as the musical structure, dance, paraphernalia, and the song text. It examines the potentials and the relevance of these musical aspects in mobilization of youths for contestation, revolt and revolution in the contemporary African societies, for critical political, social, economic and environmental issues, for social transformation in sub Saharan African societies. It asserts that the use of hip hop music would be successful only through the promotion of hip hop music with wholesome musical contents, and the social engineering of hip hop musicians to maintain high standard of morality in their music.

Paper 3

Sendra Estrella / SOAS, University of London

Badji Mariama / GERM, Université Gaston Berger

Journal Télévisé Rappé: a local creative response from the youth to the narrative of the media conglomerate rooted in the context of Senegal

In a context where hip-hop artists are still fighting for the professionalisation and maturity of their career, Senegalese rappers Keyti and Xuman found Journal Télévisé Rappé in 2013, a news broadcasting programme where presenters and correspondents rap the news stories. This combination of a history of hip-hop and the opportunities of new technologies constitutes a key example of the vibrant creativity but also of the social commitment of youth in Senegal. The transmedia format, disseminated across multiple platforms (radio, TV and the internet) has not only prompt a space for young audiences to critically think of the news that concern them, but also, it has led to a new “citizen-artist journalism” with in-depth commentaries on political, social and economical issues, that challenges the boundaries between art, activism and journalism. Far from aiming at persuading audiences, Journal Télévisé Rappé has forged a re-appropriation of the information that leads to a socio- political mobilisation of the Senegalese population.

Paper 4

Pardue Derek / Aarhus University

Blackness and Sound Design in the Diaspora

In 2006 DJ Erry-G created the sonic theater piece “From Percussion to the Turntable” (Dos Tambores aos Toca-discos) and since then has developed it into part of his livelihood as a professional member of the dynamic hip hop scene in São Paulo, Brazil. Upon first glance, Tambores is a straightforward performance tracing the history of “black music” through the diaspora popularized by a local entrepreneurial DJ. This is true but misses the theoretical and methodological dimensions of Erry-G’s quest to convey a sense of history and space through sound design.
This talk tells the story of sound production as it relates to individual and collective notions of blackness and professionalism. In particular, I focus on the connections between Erry-G’s changing personal views on race and music and his shifting approaches to the cultural marketplace. The ultimate goal of Erry-G and the other Tambores performers is to make São Paulo more black in the physical occupation of clubs, cultural centers, public transportation spots, state education centers and other performance spaces, as well as virtually more black through web radio and a range of social media platforms. While the marketing of “black” plays a role in a selection of Tambores performances, it is not, in general, a case of sound design for the primary goal of consumerism. Rather, Erry-G attempts to produce blackness as an alternative Afrocentrism based in groove that thrives on unexpected exchanges and encounters.

Paper 5

Stefani Silvia / Università degli Studi di Genova

Hip-hop culture of resistance in popular suburbs of Praia

In the last years, the Cape-Verdean islands have been protagonists of a constant economic growth that has not improved general life conditions, but it has enhanced the socio-economic inequality. These deep contrasts are stronger in urban reality, in particular in the capital city of Praia. The ethnographic research I carried on during 2014 analyses the situation of young people living in popular suburbs, which are the most badly affected by unemployment and lack of opportunities. In response to marginalization, these young people adopt and perform alternative identities and life-styles in contrast with the dominant system, through the appropriation of tools and symbols of the hip-hop transnational culture. This phenomenon concerns both urban gangs called “thug” from the rapper Tupac’s expression, arisen since 2000 in poor suburbs, and movements of social activists currently developing in the same zones. Both types of street organizations use artistic expressions of hip-hop, as rap and graffiti, with functions of resistance and politic claim against hegemonic society. Another aspect of this issue is linked to gender: the almost completely masculine belonging of the members of these groups and the gender performances they act support the consideration of them as “protest masculinities”, that are, according to Connell’s definition, groups that re-vindicate the superiority descending from masculine gender as a reaction against a general context of marginalization.

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