Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Media Studies, Pitzer College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2003
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, New York University (NYU)
Primitive Art and Modern Selves: the Greater Accra Regional Centre for National Culture

This project studies the ways in which a set of contemporary identities are articulated through tourist artmaking in a postcolonial African context. My site is the Greater Accra Regional Centre for National Culture in Accra, Ghana, a government-run ethnic arts complex with a foreign tourist consumer base. My research explores how the production and practice of "art" in this institutional space produces and articulates layered identities-individual, cultural, and national-in a context of increasing globalization. It does so through a study of the three generations of artists and traders who work at the Centre, each of which engage the national production and global circulation of culture in distinct ways. My research focuses on youth at the Centre and explores the ways they construct an alternative African modernity through the production of traditional culture and the consumption of transnational black popular culture. Arts Centre is located at the intersection of several fields of cultural production, including the state's national project, the global tourist, art and popular culture markets, and traditional African art production. All of these shape the meanings of artmaking at the Centre. The generational framework of this project enables analysis of the multiple roles and meanings of "art" and "culture" both over time and across groups. This project contributes to theorizations of postcolonial identity, nationbuilding, and alternative modernity. It also contributes to popular and material culture theory, and to the anthropology of art, which in its most recent theoretical move seeks to produce local art histories.