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While the field of aesthetics has long been dominated by European philosophy, recent inquiries have expanded the arena to accommodate different cultures as well as different definitions and meanings. Aesthetics often establishes the pattern that connects culture functions in a society. In African and African American societies it functions as the "keeper of the traditions." The African aesthetic is visible from popular culture to the classical cultures. In all art forms, including body adornment arts, there emerge symbols, colors, rhythms, styles, and forms that function as artistic instruments and cultural histories. While acknowledging African cultural diversity, the focus here is on the commonalities in the aesthetic that make an Ibo recognize a Kikuyu and a Jamaican recognize a Chewa and an African American recognize a Sotho. The deep structure manifest in African cultures in the diaspora is proof of the aesthetic continuity. The debate continues over the exact nature of African aesthetics, and in this volume scholars and teachers in the fields of African and African American studies approach the subject from a broad range of disciplines. Dance, music, art, theatre, and literature are examined in order fully to appreciate and delineate what the specific qualities and aspects of an African aesthetic might be. Additionally, theoretical concepts and issues are discussed in order to define more clearly what is meant by an "African aesthetic." The term "African" here applies to all Africans, both continental and diasporan, and encompasses historically used terms such as "Negro," "Black," and "Afro-American." This thoughtful and thought-provoking volume will be a valuable addition to thereadings of scholars and students in fields ranging from African studies to general philosophy and cultural studies.
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While the field of aesthetics has long been dominated by European philosophy, recent inquiries have expanded the arena to accommodate different cultures as well as different definitions. In this volume, scholars and teachers in the fields of African and African American studies advance the debate over the nature of African aesthetics, approaching the subject from a broad range of disciplines.

Table of Contents

Introduction The Foundations The Concept of Nzuri: Towards Defining an African Centered Aesthetic; The African American Aesthetic and National Consciousness: Optimal Afrocentric Thought; The African Diasporan Ritual Mode: A Paradigm for the Analysis of Plays from the African Continuum; Location Theory and African Aesthetics; The African Aesthetic and National Consciousness Applications Mpai: Libation Oratory; Aesthetic Practices Among African-American Women: An Examination of the Relevance of Three Competing Motivations; Jazz Literature and the African-American Aesthetic; The Search for an Afrocentric Visual Aesthetic; Aesthetics and African American Musical Expression; Prospects The Aesthetics of Nommo in the Films of Spike Lee: "School Daze" and "Do The Right Thing" Zora Neale Hurston's Transmutation and Synthesis of Nommo: Reclamation of a Legacy Art for Life's Sake: African Art as a Reflection of an Afrocentric Cosmology Conclusion Keeper of the Traditions: A Bibliographic Essay in African Aesthetics Index

About the Author

KARIAMU WELSH-ASANTE is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Director of the Institute for African Dance at Temple University. Her areas of academic specialization include African aesthetics and culture and African and African American dance, and her published books include African Culture: Rhythms of Unity (Greenwood Press, 1985), Africa World Press, 1989) and African Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.

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