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Andrew W. Mellon Lecture in the Humanities

Black Music’s Recorded Afterlives

If colonial writing robbed Africa of its “spirit”—as the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’O suggested—what do we make of that other Western, technological intervention: the sound recorder? Around 1900, a series of German travelers undertook their own kind of “language” invasion consistent with Africa’s broader, colonial occupation. Armed with phonographs, they sought to capture what was commonly believed to be the sound of human beginnings: in African performances, one could discover a primitive form of what would later evolve into civilized (European) “music.” In this lecture, Ronald Radano will discuss his findings in the resultant archive, suggesting that it be listened to both critically and as a way of reimagining African sound as a reanimated force that has the potential of reinventing a previously subjugated “spirit.”

26 Mar 19
19:30 - 21:00
American Academy in Berlin
Am Sandwerder 17-19
14109 Berlin-Wannsee
***Wheelchair accessible***
Speaker: Ronald Radano

This event took place on March 26, 2019.

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