The “Popular Cultures in Africa” conference held at the University of Texas at Austin, March 30 through April 1, 2007, witnessed a broad array of scholars who provided insightful and lively scholarly debate on the processes of cultures in Africa. In order to document significant aspects of the discussion during the meeting, we collected papers focused on inter- and intra-politicking by peoples of African descent for purposes of self-agitation through popular practices as well as the spread of their lifestyles.
This collection is not so much intended to document “a complex of distinctive expression of life experiences” but rather to provide an understanding of the quest of people of African descent for the right to express and maintain these distinctive life experiences in the face of competing and inhibitory political and sociocultural forces intent on enforcing some standards, values, and ways of being and doing things in the world. It is an active process of rejection of impositions, be it imposition by existing customs or by external influences. The complexity of this quest requires a broad and interdisciplinary approach, hence, the diverse, complementary chapters whose topics range from lifestyle and religion to visual and print media. We hope that the chapters of this book will promote scholarship on African cultures.
We are deeply thankful for the support of faculty members and students who worked tirelessly to make the conference successful. We appreciate the support of the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University San Marcos, and all our sponsors.