Content

Scott Youngstedt, Masquelier, Adeline: Fada. Boredom and Belonging in Niger. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019. 251pp. ISBN 978-​0-​226-​62434-​1. Price: $ 30.00 in:

Anthropos, page 244 - 246

Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774, https://doi.org/10.5771/0257-9774-2020-1-244

Browse Volumes and Issues: Anthropos

Bibliographic information
ferences between dancers b-boys in Maré (Rio de Janeiro) and rappers Red Eyes Gang in Seixal (Lisbon). Both perform against stigma of segregation that occur for different reasons, either for being poor and living in the favelas (Brazil) or against cultural and institutional racism (Portugal). Gustavo Coelho shows how the aes‐ thetic-expressive inverse readings of piXação – an iron‐ ic form of graffiti on bridges and buildings – in Rio de Janeiro serves to reclaim public spaces and create prop‐ er mechanisms of recognition, despite risks of death, discourses criminalizing piXação, and common graffiti as alternatives. Claudia Garrocini’s article reveals how hip-hop and entertainment co-operated in a popular Brazilian TV show, “Manos e Minas,” which challenged existing prej‐ udices towards and created spaces of engaging with young suburban residents in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, surviving a short censorship period imposed by lo‐ cal politicians. Ana Stela Cunha and Rosenverck Estrela Santos analyze how hip-hop in São Luís de Maranhão was discriminated against by mainstream media and po‐ lice forces since the 1980 s, as black and impoverished populations looked for cultural and political alternatives to social inequalities and imposed hierarchies. Finally, Holly Eva Ryan explores how Grupo Tupinãodá used street art for its (in-)direct confronta‐ tions with elitist and repressive forces towards the end of the dictatorship period, eventually creating openings for activist art during the age of democracy. The book’s third and final section is dedicated to Africa. In his contribution, Derek Pardue situates Lis‐ bon’s kriolu rap as an exercise of emplacement, poeti‐ cally localizing Cape Verdeans’ ambiguous experiences of Portuguese (post-)colonialism vis-à-vis national marginalization and urban displacement. Kriolu rap es‐ sentially de- and reconstructs national isopmorphisms of race, place, and culture. Redy Wilson Lima shows how rap in Praia, Cape Verde’s capital, bears similarities with finason (a mod‐ ern type of griot) and Caribbean sonorities. While the island’s youth virtually ignores Lusophone cultures, they use rap as an epistemological tool that conveys Pan-African and Afrocentric messages and resists Euro‐ centric epistemologies. Anna Pöysä and Janne Rantala investigate into MC Azagaia’s musical intervention into past and politics of Mozambique. They show that Aza‐ gaia’s songs and public appearances conflict with the development narratives of elite and international donors. In their view, Azagaia represents the stigma‐ tized and shows invisible cultures after colonialism. In their article, Gilson Lázaro and Osvaldo Silva point at the aesthetics of transgression and the verbal aggressiveness of Angola’s social intervention rap. They show how, in a context that still bears the (physi‐ cal, psychic, and structural) marks of dictatorship, rap‐ pers revive nationalistic protest songs of earlier genera‐ tions and confront the provincialization of cultural spaces. Finally, Miguel de Barros reveals how rap broadcasts on national radio, such as Ondas Culturais, have been instrumental for the political participation and dissent of youngsters, allowing them to become public actors in ongoing social, economic, and public debates, despite military control. “Lusophone Hip-Hop” represents a pedagogical ef‐ fort that combines analyses of local, national, and global experiences against a canvas of music as commodity, social behavior, symbol, and art. As the volume points out, Lusophone hip-hop largely operates at the level of the co-ethnic community, where it expands propaganda and collaboration channels that affirm affective bonds, on the one hand, and contests biased ethnic, racial, and national imaginations, on the other. The genre manages to subvert political and imperial connotations that have been historically imposed and imbues it with ideas of participatory intercultural citizenship instead. In a gen‐ eral sense, this type of music-making creates bridges not only between continents but also between genres, social strata, and generations. The idea of intervention‐ ist music discourse and performance (similar to Bhab‐ ha’s distinction between the pedagogical and the perfor‐ mative) flows freely between the nodes of the Luso‐ phone Atlantic, inviting decision makers in cultural in‐ dustries and memory politics to change mentalities. Paraphrasing Massimo Canevacci’s closing words, Lu‐ sophone hip-hop may thus gradually eliminate estab‐ lished classifications based on sub- or counterculture, creating enduring interstitial spaces of civic integrity and intercultural competence instead. Bart Vanspauwen (bvanspauwen@fcsh.unl.pt) Masquelier, Adeline: Fada. Boredom and Belonging in Niger. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2019. 251pp. ISBN 978-0-226-62434-1. Price: $ 30.00 Adeline Masquelier’s “Fada. Boredom and Belonging in Niger” examines the central role of fada in the every‐ day lives of male youth in contemporary urban Niger. Fada are roadside associations that typically include five to ten youth and young men of various ethnicities at any given gathering. Masquelier situates the minutiae of daily life in the context of political, economic, religious, local, and global change over the last 30 years. Masque‐ lier’s highly sophisticated ethnography skillfully weds vivid thick description of quotidian lived experience that highlights local voices with original theoretical in‐ sights. The result is a complex, engaging monograph that is indispensable for understanding the ways by which urban youth navigate the challenges they face in the world’s poorest country with agency and dexterity, while simultaneously contributing important theoriza‐ tion of youth, gender, masculinity, identities, and the ur‐ ban. Expanding on themes that I explored in “Surviving with Dignity. Hausa Communities of Niamey, Niger” (New York 2013), Masquelier demonstrates the ways by which male youth creatively draw on the solidarity of their fada groups to not only confront the boredom as‐ sociated with their idle, underemployed, liminal status, but also to experiment with identities, imagine brighter 244 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 futures, and strive for meaning and respect. In short, fa‐ da offers a space, “where rather than merely surviving, one can live a dignified life, a life worth living” (214). Masquelier documents that the birth and proliferation of fada groups – a reincarnation of the councils of el‐ ders in traditional Hausa politics – can be traced to the political liberalization that began in 1991 and the con‐ current implementation of neoliberal economic policies that gutted the state and increased the suffering of aver‐ age citizens. Niger’s population is the world’s youngest and its cities are among the fastest growing in the world given that Nigérien women have the world’s highest fer‐ tility rate and continuing rural to urban migration. In short, there is a severe shortage of jobs in urban Niger. Male youth of Niger find themselves trapped in limi‐ nality, unable to reach what they earnestly desire: social adulthood. Nigérien manhood is defined through steady work, and the ability to found a household with a wife and children – and the respect that accompanies these responsibilities. Trapped in “waithood,” Nigérien male youth actively confront their frustration, uncertain fu‐ tures, and the boredom of idleness through their critical‐ ly important fada groups. Masquelier documents that male Nigérien youth spend most of their time in fada groups – daily routine meetings on the same roadside spots of longtime friends to engage in conversation, share tea, play cards, listen to the radio, and watch passersby. Participants discuss a wide range of topics including local and global politics, economics, reli‐ gion, sports, and music, but much of their conversation focuses on their own anxieties, frustrations, and aspira‐ tions. Fada groups can be highly organized with elected officers, and formal meetings with agendas. Some groups function as small NGOs, engaging in development projects, and offering services such as informal neighbor‐ hood policing and cleanup, and rotating credit asso‐ ciations. Fada is governed by “small disciplines” or com‐ plex norms involving greetings, ritual handshakes, seat‐ ing priorities, sharing, and perhaps most important, ex‐ pectations of loyalty, trust, and privacy. Fada groups mark their spaces with wall writings or signage – from crude scribblings to professional com‐ missioned works of art – that offer snapshots of their identities, concerns, and aspirations. Masquelier reveals a wide range of themes in these signs, including morali‐ ty, radio stations, solidarity, self-affirmation, money, po‐ litical positions, tea, places, rugged masculinity, and hip-hop. Masquelier observes that fada names typically refer to far-away places, things, and people – such as Harlem, Radio France Internationale, U.S. dollars, and Bruce Lee. Masquelier deftly identifies and interprets tensions or seeming contradictions throughout her analysis of a wide range of fada projects, including conversation, the timeconsuming ritual art of tea preparation and consumption, selections of group names, thinking about women, listen‐ ing to rap and rapping, body building, experimenting with clothing, and “zigzagging” in politics and work. For example, Masquelier explores the ways by which fada groups simultaneously involve the claiming of pub‐ lic space while creating very private spaces of intimacy. Masquelier analyzes the fluid ways that “multiple tempo‐ ralities converge, intersect, coexist” (26) in fada, includ‐ ing the present reality of filling their long days with mean‐ ingful and dignified conversation while they wait for jobs, regular breaks for Muslim prayers, and continuously articulating brighter futures at home or abroad. Nigériens navigate generational conflicts as youth criticize elders and the state for failing to provide them with jobs and for endemic corruption while parents criticize fada as simply a lazy way to kill time. They criticize their sons’ hip-hop music, their sartorial choices, and their lax religiosity. Some are not eager to take on the responsibilities of man‐ hood, while they enjoy the safe spaces of the fada groups where they find conviviality and opportunities to experi‐ ment with local and global identities. Fada groups’ signs are designed to draw attention, yet many involve esoteric messages accessible only to members. Through thinking and fantasizing about women, young men understand and express their masculinity. Engaging with hip-hop culture is about establishing a sense of belonging in global and lo‐ cal worlds, and youth are drawn to its power to speak the truth about injustice and suffering of the poor. Fada groups that provide night watch services transform sitting into a form of work that is increasingly appreciated by neighbors and shopkeepers. Male youth simultaneously claim that their dress is not an expression of their identi‐ ties while they take great pride in experimenting and im‐ provising with a wide variety of global styles. They incur debt to get the right clothes to compete in dress duels and rap and breakdancing contests. Finally, they develop ca‐ pacities to zigzag through politics and life, ready to seize opportunities at any moment such as regularly switching party affiliations, and taking on new jobs or balancing several money-making schemes at once. Finally, I see two issues that could extend the analy‐ sis. First, fada are male spaces. Women rarely sit “with the boys,” and when they occasionally do, “their pres‐ ence ultimately disrupts the group’s social dynamics and its carefully cultivated intimacy” (95, 96). Given this reality, Masquelier offers little reflexivity or consid‐ eration of positionality. Some readers may wonder why male fada participants allowed a white woman to sit with them for hours at a time, and how Masquelier’s presence may influence what they say and do. Second, there are at least 10 informal conversation groups for every fada group. Even though conversation is the principal activity in both informal conversation groups and formal fada groups, I think it is important to classify the former as hira (“conversation”) groups and the latter as fada (“associations”). While at times they are virtually indistinguishable, unlike fada groups, hira groups are not named, do not have officers, do not use signage, and do not have pre-set agendas. Some hira groups explicitly and proudly declare that they are not fada groups. Book Reviews 245 Anthropos 115.2020 These minor criticisms do not detract from this bril‐ liant contribution to the literature. In addition to the strengths that I have outlined, “Fada” flows seamlessly from cover to cover while each chapter offers sufficient contextualization to stand alone. This is a challenging book, but readers will find it well worth the effort. Scott Youngstedt (smy@svsu.edu) Matory, James Lorand: The Fetish Revisited. Marx, Freud, and the Gods Black People Make. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018. 362 pp. ISBN 978-1-4780-0105-8. Price: $ 28.95 In the 16th century, Portuguese seafarers coined the term feitiço to designate (and criticize) the human-made things that Black people, whom they met with on the West African coast, employed in their religious practices. Forged in an unequal Atlantic encounter, the notion of the fetish as material expression of a “false consciousness” or a “human projection” had a remark‐ able career in the West making it into Marxian theories of value, Freudian psychoanalysis, and people’s sexual desires. In an ambitious two-book project, anthropolo‐ gist J. Lorand Matory revisits the trajectory of this am‐ biguous subject. Based on more than three decades of research and partial initiation into half a dozen Afro-At‐ lantic religious traditions, descriptions of selected ob‐ jects from the “The Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic” collection at Duke University (), close readings of Marx and Freud, and in‐ terviews with Afro-Atlantic religious practitioners, Ma‐ tory puts different heirs of the fetish into dialogue with each other and thereby has Afro-Atlantic priests “talk back” to Marx and Freud (27). Staging a complex conversation, Matory shows that fetishes are inherently ambivalent and controversial as they are made in unequal exchanges between people in hierarchical relationships (xixf.). Hence, the value and agency of fetishized objects result from a displacement of value and agency from other things and people onto them (31). Marx’s and Freud’s fetishes as well as the gods Black people make share rhizomatic roots in Afro- Atlantic exchanges (38), but they invest contrasting de‐ grees of value and contrasting types of agency into the different fetishes they make (39). Therefrom, Matory develops an argument of four main points (39, 316 f.): First, no theory is disembodied or universal but created and situated in its specific context; second, fetishism is a useful way to illuminate people’s competitive mean‐ ing-makings and strategic assignments of value and agency to certain things; third, fetishes embody the so‐ cial ambiguities and ambivalences of their makings; fourth, people’s assignment of value and agency to cer‐ tain things entails the devaluation of other people and things whereby one party raises itself above the other – Matory calls this “ethnological Schadenfreude.” Devel‐ oping this argument by following his main protagonists – Marx, Freud, and Afro-Atlantic priests –, Matory structures his book into three main parts, each devoted to their respective makings and theorizations of differ‐ ent fetishes. Part 1 traces the Afro-Atlantic genealogy of the fetish and its appropriation by Marx and Freud via Hegel. As Matory shows, Marx excludes “negro slaves” from cap‐ italist modes of production and thereby denies them val‐ ue and agency. He uses them solely as pedestal to pro‐ mote the cause of the White working class and ascribes the value production of the enslaved to the White prole‐ tariat, thus creating a fetish – the “negro slave” – of his own (chap. 2). Another of Marx’s fetishes is found in his labour theory of value that ascribes value to a thing solely based on its production and thereby denigrates its exchange and cultural values. Thus, Marx himself fetishizes people and things, and he does so due to his own ambiguous identity as an impoverished Jew striv‐ ing for higher social status in a White Protestant Eur‐ ope. This is betrayed by the fetishes he surrounded him‐ self with: his overcoats or the piano in his home. In his “ethnological Schadenfreude,” Marx denigrates Black people and labour to demarcate himself and his fellow proletarians as White. Accordingly, Marx’s historical materialism is no universal human history but an inter‐ ested fetishization of people and things itself (chap. 3). The same holds for Freud’s psychoanalysis. The psy‐ che and its analysis are less of a human universal than situated in a specific context and an interested practice that is also heavily informed by the ambiguous identity of its founding father as argued in Part 2 of the book. Again, we find “ethnological Schadenfreude” in Freud’s theorizing, as he denigrates Blacks and women to as‐ cribe himself the social status of the White European male he aspired to. Accordingly, Matory discusses how psychoanalysis consists not in a disembodied theory but in a network of people, things, and ideas that enhances certain forms of agency and value production at the ex‐ pense of others and thus creates a fetish of its own (chap. 4). Fetishizing the White penis as able to curtail its libido, Freud turns vaginas and penises of other skin colours into its libidinous Other, and thereby denies them the same value and agency (chap. 5). Again, his ambiguous identity as a gay Jew and his aspiration to higher social status are betrayed by the personal fetishes he surrounded himself with: antique busts, cigars, and books. These things co-shaped his psychoanalytical the‐ orizing, which is a fetishization of its own emerging from a specific network and driven by the aspirations of its founding father (165). As for Marx and Freud, the fetishes that Black people make are also situated in and emerging from specific networks. But in distinction to the former, the Afro-At‐ lantic priests are aware that it is them who make their gods and fetishes. This creation takes place in ritual ex‐ changes and material assemblages which, in turn, shape their communities and themselves as well. The Afro-At‐ lantic fetishes and their changing histories are embed‐ ded in Afro-Atlantic exchanges as people, gods, and their mediating fetishes shape each other: “people make the gods but the gods make us, too” (178). Part 3 of the 246 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020

Chapter Preview

References

Abstract

Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.

Zusammenfassung

Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.