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Periodical article Periodical article
Title:Hip-hop and Cultural Citizenship on Kenya's Swahili Coast
Author:Eisenberg, A.J.
Year:2012
Periodical:Africa
Volume:82
Issue:4
Pages:556-578
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Subjects:Swahili - language
Music
Mombasa
Abstract:The Muslim-dominated 'Swahili coast' has always served as a conceptual as well as physical periphery for postcolonial Kenya. This article takes Kenyan youth music under the influence of global hip-hop as an ethnographic entry into the dynamics of identity and citizenship in this region. Kenyan youth music borrows from global hip-hop culture the idea that an artist must 'represent the real'. The ways in which these regional artists construct their public personae thus provide rich data on 'cultural citizenship', in Aihwa Ong's (1996) sense of citizenship as subjectification. The article focuses on youth music production in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa between 2004 and 2007. During this time, some local artists adopted a representational strategy that subtly reinscribed the symbolic violence to which members of the coast's Muslim-Swahili society have long been subjected. The article examines the representational strategies that were adopted during this period by Mombasan artists who happened to be members of the Muslim-Swahili society ('subjects of the Swahili coast'), with an ethnographic eye and ear trained on what they say about the ways in which young subjects of the Swahili coast are objectified and subjectified as 'Kenyan youth' in the twenty-first century. [Journal Abstract]
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