Diffused on the Radio: Literary and Cultural Landscapes in Africa Stream at ASAUK24
Posted on 2nd October, 2023 in News
Diffused on the Radio: Literary and Cultural Landscapes in Africa
Convenor: Professor Helen Yitah, University of Ghana at Legon
This conference stream seeks to bring together literary critics, cultural studies scholars, literary historians, and educators to examine the complexity of the radio-literary/cultural production landscape in African societies. While the earliest radio broadcasting in Africa was mainly a useful tool for colonial influence and control, the era of independence changed this situation dramatically, as the nationalist fervor took hold and resistant voices filled the waves.
But there have been many under/crosscurrents since the 1950s in the dissemination of literary and other cultural products through the broadcast media. Western media have continued to engage in the diffusion of African literature and culture (see for example, Lee Nichols’ “Conversations with African Writers” which were recorded for Voice of America (1972-1978), or BBC’s recent series, “The Story of Africa”). Locally, with the liberalisation of local radio stations in the 1990s and the burgeoning of broadcasting in local languages, radio gained ground as the dominant medium for music, drama, poetry, short stories, spoken word and other indigenous genres, both oral and written. In some cases, dying oral traditions are being replaced by their radio-recorded versions sold on the streets, giving their performers celebrity status. In order to understand the cultural implications of literary and cultural diffusion over the radio, it is necessary to examine these crossroads and crossings in all their complexity. We invite discussion around questions such as:
How has the legacy of colonialism manifested in radio patronage of literary heritage and local culture in Africa?
What are the trajectories of radio’s diffusion of literature and culture on the continent since the 1950s and 1960s?
To what extent does radio diffusion and programming influence the literary and cultural landscape of Africa?
How has the everyday practice of art and resistance been shaped by contemporary literary radio?
We invite scholars to examine these questions in order to illuminate the dynamism of African literary and cultural expression through the radio.
Please send questions and suggestions to Helen Yitah, firstname.lastname@example.org.