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African Video Movies and Global Desires

African Video Movies and Global Desires: A Ghanaian History

Carmela Garritano
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Ohio University Press
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    African Video Movies and Global Desires
    Book Description:

    African Video Movies and Global Desires is the first full-length scholarly study of Ghana's commercial video industry, an industry that has produced thousands of movies over the last twenty years and has grown into an influential source of cultural production. Produced and consumed under circumstances of dire shortage and scarcity, African video movies narrate the desires and anxieties created by Africa's incorporation into the global cultural economy. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research conducted in Ghana over a ten-year period, as well as close readings of a number of individual movies, this book brings the insights of historical context as well as literary and film analysis to bear on a range of movies and the industry as a whole. Garritano makes a significant contribution to the examination of gender norms and the ideologies these movies produce. African Video Movies and Global Desires is a historically and theoretically informed cultural history of an African visual genre that will only continue to grow in size and influence.

    eISBN: 978-0-89680-484-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: African Popular Videos as Global Cultural Forms
    (pp. 1-23)

    The emergence of popular video industries in Ghana and Nigeria represents the most important and exciting development in African cultural production in recent history. Since its inception in the 1960s, African filmmaking has been a “paradoxical activity” (Barlet 2000, 238). Born out of the historical struggle of decolonization and a commitment to represent “Africa from an African perspective” (Armes 2006, 68), the work of socially committed African filmmakers has not generated a mass audience on the continent. Under current conditions marked by the international hegemony of dominant cinema industries, the dilapidated state of cinema houses in Africa, and the prohibitive...

  6. 1 Mapping the Modern: The Gold Coast Film Unit and the Ghana Film Industry Corporation
    (pp. 24-60)

    In 1995, to mark the centenary of cinema, the Ghanaian Ministry of Information sponsored a one-week film festival and symposium organized around the theme of North-South cross-cultural influences in cinema. The celebration featured screenings of films made in Ghana by the national film company and the internationally recognized independent filmmakers Kwah Ansah and King Ampaw. Among the titles included in the festival program was The Boy Kumasenu (1952), a British colonial film created by the Gold Coast Film Unit (GCFU). The film, organized around the motif of the journey, replays the colonial opposition between tradition and modernity. Kumasenu, the protagonist,...

  7. 2 Work, Women, and Worldly Wealth: Global Video Culture and the Early Years of Local Video Production
    (pp. 61-90)

    In 1987, when William Akuffo, a film importer and distributor, produced and screened Zinabu, a full-length feature shot with a VHS video camera, film production in Ghana was at a standstill. Dilapidated cinema houses, film equipment in need of repair, and the dire state of the economy had made the production of films financially untenable. The Ghana Film Industry Corporation (GFIC), without a functioning laboratory or the foreign currency needed to purchase film stock, had not released a feature film, without the assistance of foreign investors, since 1979. Independent filmmaker Kwaw Ansah had just completed shooting his award-winning film Heritage...

  8. 3 Professional Movies and Their Global Aspirations: The Second Wave of Video Production in Ghana
    (pp. 91-128)

    Across Africa, the 1990s brought unprecedented transformation into local media ecologies (Teer-Tomaselli, de Beer, and Wasserman 2007). In Ghana these changes were ushered in with the country’s first democratic elections in 1992. Now president, Rawlings continued to direct the country toward economic liberalization. Throughout the 1990s, the deregulation of the state-controlled media environment, a central component of liberalization, opened the country to a multiplicity of global media flows and made available an extraordinary array of local, national, and transnational sources of news, information, and entertainment. Deregulation also made possible the further proliferation of private FM radio stations (Gifford 2004) and...

  9. 4 Tourism and Trafficking: Views from Abroad in the Transnational Travel Movie
    (pp. 129-153)

    In “Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality” (2001), Simon Gikandi describes the convergence of postcolonial and globalization theories, which he refers to as “the cultural turn in global studies” (634), a turn taken by scholars of globalization in search of a vocabulary to describe the transnational cultural flows and formations that have appeared in the last fifty years. Postcolonial theory, according to Gikandi, has provided a theoretical language for describing cultural transactions that have exceeded the geographical boundaries of the nation and rendered obsolete the modernization narrative, which envisioned the postcolonial nation-state as the engine driving social change. and progress...

  10. 5 Transcultural Encounters and Local Imaginaries: Nollywood and the Ghanaian Movie Industry in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 154-194)

    In his widely anthologized essay “Toward a Regional Imaginary in Africa” (1998), film critic Manthia Diawara argues that in the context of globalization and liberalization, regional zones of exchange in Africa, and the transnational flows of capital, people, imaginaries, technologies, and commodities that produce and sustain them, generate a type of “disorder” that challenges the homogenizing forces of multinational corporations and resists the state’s complicity with global capitalism. Diawara points out that because cultural nationalism “has lost some of its explanatory power in the era of globalization” (77), what is needed in Africa is the cultivation of “regional imaginaries” that...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 195-200)

    Jean-Marie Teno’s lyrical documentary Sacred Places (2009) unfolds in the small, poor neighborhood of Saint Léon in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, during the 2007 FESPACO Pan-African film festival. It returns to an old conundrum: African cinema, like the many films shown at FESPACO, is not within the reach of African audiences. Teno tells us early in the film that he has come to St. Léon on the recommendation of a friend who scolded him for staying in fancy hotels during his time in Ouaga instead of experiencing its “paradise,” and its music, literature, and cinema. Teno explains in voice-over that during...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 201-216)
  13. List of Films and Videos
    (pp. 217-224)
  14. References
    (pp. 225-240)
  15. Index
    (pp. 241-246)