Self-Representational Strategies in Contemporary African Arts

Adelaide Kuehn
French and Francophone Studies
UC Los Angeles

As an interdisciplinary project at the intersection of cultural studies, film studies, art history and literary analysis, this dissertation demonstrates how cultural productions stage challenges—such as limited circulation on the African continent, reliance on foreign markets for publication and exhibition, pressures to produce “authentic” works—that face contemporary African art, literature and film today. It focuses on the ways in which artists, theorists, filmmakers and authors from Cameroon, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo represent themselves and their work within a contemporary, global network of the arts in Africa. It argues that representations of the arts found within African cultural productions offer a unique and multifaceted vision of the literary, artistic and cinematic environments in Africa today. The cultural productions discussed reflect questions of authority, authenticity, and audience as they relate to contemporary arts. Together, these themes embody the unique obstacles and pressures that influence African arts.