Contesting Constructions of Cultural Production in & through Urban Theatre in Rhodesia, c. 1890–1950
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In this article I attempt to analyse three urban African performances; Nyawo, the tea party, and Beni. I employ the socio-historical analysis model which attempts to understand the relationship between the field of cultural production and the field of power. Historically the ascendancy to power of the bourgeoisie in Western Europe facilitated the assimilation of its culture and taste by virtually all of Western civil society. Colonisation in Rhodesia (in its blue print form) intended to use the same principle of extending English rulership and influence with the goal of transforming Rhodesia to be like the metropolitan state in manifesting the nature and will of the English in lifestyle, actions, activities and culture.1 As evidenced by the nature of these urban African performances, domination does not necessarily result in absolute collaboration. Rhodesian discourse was both collaborated with and resisted by African cultural producers. I look at this element of collaboration and resistance through Ranajit Guha’s (1997) frame of the articulation of power where domination implies subordination. In the case of colonial administrations, coercion seems to outweigh persuasion in the articulation of domination thereby denying absolute assimilation of colonial culture by Africans as was the case of civil society in Western Europe.
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