African Arts & Literatures Today: New Media, Popular Culture and Anthropology | Research Center for Material Culture
20 April 2016

African Arts & Literatures Today: New Media, Popular Culture and Anthropology

Lecture | 20 Apr 2016 | RCMC

African Arts & Literatures Today aims to address the underexamining of African cultural production by providing lectures, readings and discussions by academics and artists active in the field of African culture and literature.

Popular Culture and the Political Imagination

Whether slam poetry, hip-hop or reggae, youth culture and popular music are important sites for critical reflection on contemporary society and social change. Many of these forms of cultural expression, which enjoy global popularity, emerge from so-called ‘spaces of Blackness’ within the African Diaspora. They emerge not only as entertainment, but also as forms of protest and critique, in response to various forms of discrimination and marginalization, inequality and injustice. 

In this programme, spoken word artists from Africa and the African Diaspora are invited to explore questions such as: what forms of political imagination emerge from youth culture and popular music? How do these imaginations coincide or clash with existing ideas about democracy, freedom, equity and justice? What forms of local, national, and transnational belonging do these popular cultural expressions make possible (e.g. racial belonging and transnational blackness or local, place-based belonging in the context of urban marginalization and global imaginations of ‘the ghetto’)? This programme will be introduced by Mirjam de Bruijn. 


  • Kno’Ledge Cesare (Jerry Luther King Afriyie, 30 April 1981, Ghana) is a poet, blogger and motivational speaker. He is the founder of the foundations Soul Rebel Movement and Netherlands can be Better. In 2011, he founded with others the awareness raising campaign Zwarte Piet is Racism.
  • Mirjam de Bruijn is an anthropologist who has done extensive fieldwork in Cameroon, Chad and Mali. Her ongoing work is motivated by an interest in the multiple ways in which people manage risk (drought, war, etc.) in both rural and urban areas. Prof. De Bruijn focuses on the entanglement of agency, marginality, mobility and communication. Her specific fields of interest are: nomadism, youth and children, social (in)security, poverty, marginality/social and economic exclusion, violence, slavery, and human rights, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
  • Croquemort (Didier Lalaye) is a slam poet from Chad whose work has received international attention. As a former member of the rap group Kartel Noir (Black Kartel), Croquemort started studying medicine before returning to slam poetry. His first single, ‘I want to be a star’ was released in September 2010 and received immediate attention, leading to him being signed to Label 109 for his first album Dieu bénisse Idéfix. This album came second in the competition ‘Colors Talent’ in September 2011; he was also elected Best Artist Hip Hop at the Festival ‘Vi djam’ the same year. Croquemort’s work is socially engaged, addressing issues of everyday struggles, various forms of marginalization and politics.


  • Studium Generale
  • Leiden University
  • University of Amsterdam
  • African Studies Centre


Mondriaan Fund    V4T