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Men in African Film and Fiction

Men in African Film and Fiction

Edited by Lahoucine Ouzgane
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 194
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  • Book Info
    Men in African Film and Fiction
    Book Description:

    Through their analysis of the depictions in film and literature of masculinities in colonial, independent and post-independent Africa, the contributors open some key African texts to a more obviously politicized set of meanings. Collectively, the essays provide space for rethinking current theory on gender and masculinity: - how only some of the most popular theories in masculinity studies in the West hold true in African contexts; - how Western masculinities react with indigenous masculinities on the continent; - how masculinity and femininity in Africa seem to reside more on a continuum of cultural practices than on absolutely opposite planes; - and how generation often functions as a more potent metaphor than gender. Lahoucine Ouzgane is Associate Professor of English & Film Studies, University of Alberta, Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-932-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The topic of men and masculinities in Africa is only a few years old (measured in published material) but is part of a much bigger and internationally significant focus on men which has gathered tremendous pace in the last few years. Some of the emerging scholarship on masculinities in Africa includes Robert Morrell’s pioneering work, Changing Men in Southern Africa (2001), an analysis of different forms of masculinity that foregrounds such categories as race and class during the years of political change from apartheid to democracy in South Africa. The next major work in this growing field, Men and Masculinities...


    • 1 The Anxious Phallus The Iconography of Impotence in Quartier Mozart & Clando
      (pp. 11-27)

      ‘Witch stole man’s penis.’ ‘Benin alert over “penis theft” panic.’ ‘Seven killed in Ghana over “penis-snatching” episodes.’ Headlines such as these semaphore a recurring fear and an enduring phenomenon in West Africa, and no doubt other parts of the continent – that of the magical disappearance of the male organ as a result of contact with someone, generally a stranger, through the use of the occult.¹ As the articles variously report: ‘Purported victims often blame penis shrinkage on handshakes with sorcerers’ (CNN); ‘It is widely believed in Nigeria that witches have the power to steal men’s sexual organs by an...

    • 2 The Homoerotics of Nationalism White Male-on-Male Rape & the ‘Coloured’ Subject in Mark Behr’s The Smell of Apples
      (pp. 28-41)

      In his account of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century South African Cape, William Beinart writes that ‘[m]asculinity is a slippery concept ... because it is difficult to distinguish from class and race.’¹ The apartheid South African Cape of the 1970s, the setting of Mark Behr’s The Smell of Apples, is likewise a slippery staging ground for masculinities dependent upon discursive constructions of such aspects of identity as race and class, constructions that attempt to solidify a particular hegemonic South African masculinity (white, Christian, militaristic) while also determining the signifiers of others. When Robert Morrell notes that the diminutive ‘boy’ is an...

    • 3 ‘Wild Men’ & Emergent Masculinities in Post-Colonial Kenyan Popular Fiction
      (pp. 42-54)

      The moment of independence from colonialism in Africa was a time of overwhelming emotion for the liberated subject. The attainment of political freedom affected whole facets of the native African populations in extreme and different ways. Socially, culturally and economically, formerly colonized and highly policed people suddenly found themselves free to do as they wished in matters pertaining to their daily lives. Sexuality, like all other aspects of the lives of the colonized peoples, had been under surveillance and control by the colonizers, a practice of ‘disciplining’ the body of the African male (see Cooper 2003; White 2003). Social control...

    • 4 The Anonymity of Manhood Unmasking Shadow Selves in Assia Djebar’s Ombre sultane
      (pp. 55-67)

      Assia Djebar, the Algerian writer, filmmaker, and scholar, has gained wide international fame and recognition and has most recently, in June 2005, been admitted to the Académie Française. Her work addresses, in many forms, the quest for identity and for freedom for herself, for Algerians and for all women, and whose work tirelessly challenges oppressive elements of her tradition. This she does by inscribing women’s voices into the history of Algeria and the history of Islam. While much of the criticism written on Djebar’s work has justifiably treated her centering on women, little attention has been given to related aspects...

    • 5 The Rape Continuum Masculinities in the Works of Nawal El Saadawi & Tahar Ben Jelloun
      (pp. 68-80)

      In the last three decades, scholarly attention to gender issues in the Middle East and North Africa has been focused almost exclusively, sometimes obsessively,¹ on a quest to understand Islamic femininity: what it is and how it is made and regulated – with Muslim women’s oppression, the question of the hijab, and the practice of female genital mutilation attracting most of the scrutiny.² Some of the most significant literature in this well-established field includes Fatna Sabbah’s Woman in the Muslim Unconscious (1984), a critique of the contradictory messages which the Islamic legal and erotic discourses imprint on the female body;...


    • 6 ‘Coming Unstuck’ Masculine Identities in Post-Independence Zimbabwean Fiction
      (pp. 83-99)

      In this essay I argue that in the fiction of three Zimbabwean writers we find evidence of new strains in gender relations, particularly in the representation of male subjectivity, during the first two decades after independence. Traditional Shona gender roles had been impacted first by over a half-century of colonization, followed by a relatively late and long liberation struggle (1967-80), which gave birth to a period of rapid modernization and uneven economic transformation in the context of globalization. Not surprisingly, Shona people who saw themselves as the primary subjects and who sought to be the agents of this history felt...

    • 7 Imported Alternatives Changing Shona Masculinities in Flame & Yellow Card
      (pp. 100-112)

      Writers and filmmakers in Zimbabwe have exhibited a great deal of ‘discontent’ in their representations of Shona men, often portraying them in highly negative terms. As Lahoucine Ouzgane and Daniel Coleman write, in discussions of masculinity ‘discontent is productive: it can motivate the search for change.’¹ Negative depictions of Shona masculinity pervade Zimbabwean literature and film.² For example, in her novel Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga critiques Jeremiah’s desire to possess Lucia through sexual conquest,³ Nhamo’s conformity to masculine ideals,⁴ and Babamukuru’s patriarchal attempts to control the women in his family. Likewise in her film Everyone’s Child (1996), Dangarembga criticizes the...

    • 8 Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o & the Crisis of Kenyan Masculinity
      (pp. 113-126)

      From the late nineteenth century, Kenya experienced a particularly brutal history of imperial occupation. During the so-called ‘Scramble for Africa’, the British empire spread rapidly across the eastern part of the continent and, establishing a protectorate over Kenya in 1895, subjected the region to ‘violence on a locally unprecedented scale’.¹ Its appropriation of the ancestral lands of the Gĩkũyũ people is a case in hand. By the terms of the British Imperial Land Act of 1915, ownership of these fertile tracts was largely transferred to European settlers, displacing some 25 per cent of the indigenous population and forcing many others...

    • 9 Father Africa Counter-Narratives of Masculinity in Ousmane Sembene’s Faat Kiné & Moolaadé
      (pp. 127-138)

      Ousmane Sembene was an auteur in the surest sense of the word. One of the defining characteristics of his film work is his constant reflection on, and depiction of, the African woman in post-independence society. Many of the theories written about Sembene’s films situate him as having a womanist/ feminist sensibility in his presentations and themes. While films like Faat Kiné (2000) and Moolaadé (2004) do indeed reflect Sembene’s understanding of a twenty-first century African political aesthetic which must include the African woman’s uplift as a means of reshaping society, Sembene’s foregrounding of womanist issues speaks significantly about the presence...

    • 10 The Eternal Other The Authority of Deficit Masculinity in Asian-African Literature
      (pp. 139-152)

      Most national cultures in Eastern and Southern Africa are testimonies of multiracialism. In East Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) beside the White and Black races, exist substantial populations of the so-called ‘Brown’ race made up of migrant communities of South Asian origins and peoples of Arabic heritage. An attempt to categorize, for academic purposes, East Africans of Asiatic heritage, especially South Asian heritage, has given rise to the name ‘Asian Africans’ (See Neither indigenous Asians nor indigenous Africans, the Asian African community in East Africa are the hybrid product of cultural contact between Asia and Africa over many centuries....

    • 11 Recent Trends in the Treatment of Homosexualities in Literature & Film by African Artists
      (pp. 153-163)

      By the early 1950s a diverse group of African authors pushed the limits of conventional representations of African sexuality by creating fictional African characters who engaged in same-sex practices or expressed same-sex desire. The first critical discussions of this literature by Daniel Vignal (1983) and Chris Dunton (1989) found that African novelists often treated same-sex sexuality in didactic or schematic ways. In this they largely conformed to the prevailing consensus among ethnographers and other experts developed over many decades, viz., homosexuality was a) non-existent or insignificant in African traditional cultures until b) introduced by Europeans or Arabs, and c) was...

    • 12 Re-membering the Last King of Dahomey African Masculinities & Diasporic Desires
      (pp. 164-177)

      In Modernity at Large, Arjun Appadurai observes that the past ‘is not a land to return to in a simple politics of memory. It has become a synchronic warehouse of cultural scenarios, a kind of temporal central casting, to which recourse can be taken as appropriate, depending on the movie to be made, the scene to be enacted...’ (1996: 30). For postcolonial filmmakers and writers this remark is especially relevant as many choose to rewrite canonical works or critique the hegemonic ways in which history has been told by deconstructing and reconstructing its sources and images. In the French Caribbean,...

  7. Index
    (pp. 178-182)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-183)