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Project shines a light on the dynamic ways Africans spend leisure time

Kemi Balogun, Lisa Gilman, Melissa Graboyes, Habib Iddrisu

Four UO African Studies faculty, Kemi Balogun (Sociology and Women and Gender Studies), Lisa Gilman (Folklore and English), Melissa Graboyes (Clark Honors College), and Habib Iddrisu (School of Music and Dance) are working on an edited volume of essays titled Everyday Life on the African Continent: Fun, Leisure, and Expressivity. The project will create a critically needed text for undergraduate students, exposing them to the positive aspects of daily life on the continent. A particular focus will be on the creative and dynamic ways that people in Africa are using their leisure time, having fun, being creative, and engaging in forms of expressive culture. Much of the material available for undergraduate African Studies courses emphasizes the challenges facing the continent, focusing on war, poverty, corruption, disease, or human rights violations. These issues are real and deserve sustained attention. However, the narrow focus on “Africa’s problems” creates pedagogical problems. It can reinforce stereotypes students are already conversant with and misses an opportunity for students to consider the similarities and differences between their lives and those of their African counterparts. As those who have spent time on the continent know firsthand, challenging conditions do not preclude people from making music, falling in love, playing sports, participating in festivals, writing blogs, telling jokes, wearing expressive clothing, making videos, playing games, dancing, eating delicious food and finding pleasure in myriad other ways in their daily lives.

As a companion to the project, the editors are hosting a symposium “Everyday Life on the African Continent: Fun, Leisure and Expressivity” on February 24, 2017, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. in the Knight Library Browsing Room. The event will bring together the volume’s contributors to collaboratively conceptualize and workshop the book project.

The symposium is cosponsored by the Oregon Humanities Center. For more information contact Melissa Graboyes at graboyes@uoregon.edu

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