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Africa in Europe and Europe in Africa

Reassessing the Cultural Legacy

Edited By Yolanda Aixelà-Cabré

This book studies the Afro-European and Euro-African past and present from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. It addresses Africa as a whole, eschewing historical divisions between North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its content exemplifies the extent to which the histories of Europe and Africa are intertwined, and the way European sources are usually privileged in the writing of historical accounts of cross-cultural encounters. Using post/decolonial studies, the authors' point of view is based on anthropology, history, ethnomusicology, and film and literary studies. The authors argue that mutual experiences and imaginations have affected how cultural heritage and legacy are conceived and thought of, as well as memories and sociopolitical experiences. The aim is to establish and encourage a broader knowledge of Africa–Europe and Europe–Africa encounters, incorporating case studies of Euro-African and Afro-European legacies. The final goal is to favour a more relational point of view by comparing Euro-African and Afro-European realities.

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3. How Africa Was Imagined Musically in Europe: BERNHARD BLEIBINGER



IMF-CSIC (Spain), Barcelona

When people imagine or talk of African music, they often mention rhythm, dance and drums as the main characteristics. One could talk of a popular imagination in this regard, an imagination which on the one hand, in our days, appears somehow outdated, but, on the other hand, even though it is a kind of unreflective imagination, it still may have consequences for Europeans of African roots. In an interview in 2019 the actress Thandi Sebe1 stated that she was either given roles which somehow would explain her blackness (e.g. when she played an Afro-American) or roles which catered for popular clichés or images and which link the African image with music and dance: “Sometimes I am offered the role of a ‘dancer’. But I can’t dance at all.” (Wolf 2019)2

Even though other types of African instruments and music, such as the Mbira music from Zimbabwe, have found their way to different parts of the world during the last four decades due to Zimbabwean musicians and publications by scholars, such as Berliner (Berliner 1978; Chipendo 2015), it is still “the rhythm” that drives the European imagination. Of course, rhythm is an important component of African music, if we think in Akadinda music with its inherent patterns (Kubik 2010a: 47–85; Wegener 1990) or polyrhythmic drum ensembles in West Africa or the djembe-phenomenon which we have witnessed since the beginning of the 1980s in Europe. Since...

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