Category Archives: Africa

From girls to women


Designed and edited by Lev Weinstock and Suzel Ana Reily and produced by the Department of Social Anthropology at The Queen’s University of Belfast, Venda girls’ initiation schools presents all of the available materials resulting from John Blacking’s now-legendary fieldwork, undertaken from May 1956 through December 1958, documenting the songs, ceremonies, and dances of the girls’ initiation cycle of the Venda people of the Sibasa district of the Northern Transvaal, South Africa.

The resource includes photographs, sound clips, video clips, texts with translations, transcriptions, and all of Blacking’s writings on this and related subjects.

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Filed under Africa, Ethnomusicology, Resources

EVIA Digital Archive Project

The EVIA Digital Archive Project is a collaborative peer-reviewed digital archive of ethnographic field videos for use by scholars and teachers; it is also an infrastructure of tools and systems supporting scholars in the ethnographic disciplines, including ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology.

Since its founding in 2001, the project has been developed through the joint efforts of ethnographic scholars, archivists, librarians, technologists, and legal experts, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Indiana University, and the University of Michigan. There is no charge for access for educational purposes. Above, the videographer James B. Weegi assists the ethnomusicologist Ruth M. Stone with materials that are now part of her EVIA collection.

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Filed under Africa, Ethnomusicology, Resources, World music

Album covers


Record album covers comprise a genre of music iconography that shows how musicians wish to be perceived—or how their producers wish them to be perceived. This type of iconography makes no claim to objectivity; rather, it explicitly presents images meant to arouse specific associations with the recorded music inside.

For example, the cover of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s 1977 album Zombie shows him brightly dressed, singing and gesturing defiantly, facing images of Nigerian soldiers: the zombies of the scathing title song, which satirizes these enforcers of the military government. The singer appears as a vibrant, strong leader, while the soldiers are depicted in a jagged, grey collage—as dehumanized and sinister as the zombies of horror fiction.

Below, Sahr Ngaujah and the cast of Fela! perform Zombie on Broadway.

Click here for more on music iconography.

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Filed under Africa, Iconography, Politics, Popular music