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Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship

May Joseph
Series: Public Worlds
Volume: 5
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Nomadic Identities
    Book Description:

    In a modern world of vast migrations and relocations, the rights-and rites-of citizenship are increasingly perplexing, and ever more important. Kung Fu cinema, soul music, plays, and speeches are some of the media May Joseph considers as expressive negotiations for legal and cultural citizenship.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8662-9
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 The Performance of Citizenship
    (pp. 1-20)

    It is a dark rainy night in 1972. A car inches its way through a policed barricade, interrupted by the surveillance of flashlights. Crowds of Asians are saying hurried good-byes to Uganda, their homeland until Idi Amin ordered their eviction. Melodramatic scenes of terror and fear of the present and future. Sorrowful partings, reluctant leavings. The mise-en-scène segues into a cartographic map of a journey from Kampala to Greenwood, Mississippi, from 1972 to 1990. This map cognitively traces a specific archetypal site of inauthentic citizenship for East African Asians: Kampala—London—Mississippi. In 1991, I sat in a packed downtown...

  5. 2 Citizen Nyerere
    (pp. 21-36)

    The early years of postcolonial statehood brought with them an anxiety over authority fueled by the long period of anticolonial struggle. In various African and Asian nations, this anxiety often congealed around evocative nationalist leaders linked to liberation struggles, later reconfigured as heads of secular, independent states. The biographies of Mahatma Gandhi in India, Sékou Touré in Guinea, Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, and Julius Nyerere in Tanzania dramatize the transformation of fragile, even reticent figures into charismatic, rhetorically powerful, publicly efficacious leaders of the new nation-states.

    In his typology of legitimate authority, Max Weber proposes three ideal types: traditional,...

  6. 3 Ujamaa and Soul
    (pp. 37-48)

    In November 1969, Julius K. Nyerere, president of Tanzania, outlawed ʺsoul music.ʺ The ban was accompanied by warnings that the state would take action against soul nightclubs that ignored state policy.¹ A popular explanation for the ban was the need to curb the perceived Americanizing influences locally embodied by the thriving soul clubs, and nationally to insist on less conspicuous consumption. The excessive display of pleasure and leisure epitomized by local bars and discos jarred the official policy ofujamaa, or frugality as a way of life. The ban on soul clubs was explicitly articulated in transnational terms. It was...

  7. 4 Kung Fu Cinema and Frugality
    (pp. 49-68)

    In the opening scene of his performance piece ʺIn Between Space,ʺ Shishir Kurup, a Los Angeles–based Asian American performance artist, narrates growing up in Mombasa, Kenya, in the 1970s:

    We live over here in Pandya House, a tenement building with shops and offices below. Over here is the Regal Cinema which exclusively plays American shoot-ʹem-ups, Italian spaghetti shoot-ʹem-ups, and Chinese Kung-Fu-ʹem-ups. Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, Run-Run Shaw, Raymond Chow. Tickets are two shillings and forty cents for rows A–J (which work out at about a quarter in American cash), 3/6 for rows K–Z, and 4/8 for the...

  8. 5 Nomadic Citizenship
    (pp. 69-88)

    While creating possibilities for new types of community, many postcolonial states have seen radical disruptions of old ones. In the throes of nationalist struggle, the violent legacy of the colonial encounter transformed local communities into transitory, nomadic, and fraught areas of postcolonial migrancy. Over a single generation, people have lived through cataclysmic dislocations, from the colonial to nationalist then postcolonial state, to transnationally situated communities. For those displaced by these seismic changes, the correlation between national identity and country of citizenship has been shattered irrevocably. Such dramatic reconfigurations of ideas about homeland, nation, and adopted country have created new dilemmas...

  9. 6 Staging the Postcolony
    (pp. 89-110)

    Ghana became the first African state to acquire independence in 1957. Chairman Mao died in 1976. The nineteen years in between mark a crucial period in the development of Black diasporic visibility in Europe and internationally. It was a time of passionate involvement in global solidarity movements and the formulation of radical itineraries for national sovereignty and self-determination. The cumulative effects of three centuries of slavery, indentured servitude, and colonial subjection galvanized Third World peoples into international socialist and Pan-African coalitions. A transnational cadre of Black radicals developed a political framework within which to articulate concerns about economic and cultural...

  10. 7 Bodies outside the State
    (pp. 111-126)

    In his account of Black British cultural production and its transatlantic influences,There Ainʹt No Black in the Union Jack, Paul Gilroy outlines the elaborate regimes of production, consumption, and circulation that make Black Britishness a tangible and pervasive presence within the British state.¹ Hovering around Gilroyʹs intricate archive are the invisible economies of Black British womenʹs cultural work, demonstrating yet another dimension of cultural citizenship within the modern state. Yvonne Brewster, the grand dame of Black British womenʹs theater, recounts in an interview that she was the first Black female drama student in England, trained at the Royal Academy...

  11. 8 The Scream of Sycorax
    (pp. 127-140)

    As the cultural work of Black British women demonstrates, women are everywhere present but relegated to the background in nationalist and postcolonial struggles for citizenship. The official record of modern state formation is virtually wiped clean of women as active political participants. Moreover, until recently the surreptitious ideologies of nation building uncovered by revisionist historians rarely included gender as a constitutive category.

    Sycorax, an often neglected figure in Shakespeare’s final play,The Tempest, offers a provocative critique of the erasure of women as political participants in the modern state. Sycorax draws our attention to the history of colonial conquest and...

  12. 9 Transnational Migrations
    (pp. 141-152)

    In response to neocolonial relations of knowledge, emerging postcolonial states in the imperial histories of the twentieth century generated new conceptions of the citizen, language, and ways of being in the world. Issues ofmétissageandcreolitéin the Francophone Caribbean; concepts of anthropophagy and the carnivalesque in Brazilian discourses about modernization during the 1920s and ʹ30s; phenomenologies of negritude and negrissimo and the impact of writings by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Leon Damas, Birago Diop, and Léopold Sédar Senghor; and notions of indigenous national consciousness promoted by Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, and Sékou Touré, among others, contaminated other nascent...

  13. 10 Postnational Reverberations
    (pp. 153-158)

    Migration has become a way of life for many in the latter part of the twentieth century. The large-scale displacement of peoples from the rural to the urban or across nations has heightened the precariousness of arbitrary boundaries while fueling contemporary identifications with ossified national identities. The 1970s in particular witnessed a global reconfiguration of national citizenship. As new nations contended with older ones, new geopolitical arrangements—neocolonialism, globalization, structural adjustment—shifted relations of power in less unilateral directions, creating multiple nodes of transnational interrelatedness. In the process, peoples around the world have aspired to conceptions of world citizenship while...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 159-172)
  15. Index
    (pp. 173-178)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 179-179)