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Towards Global Black Cultural Studies in Theory & Practice: Reading Tejumola Olaniyan 

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Catherine M. Cole

Professor of Dance and English at the University of Washington

During a thirty-year career, scholar Tejumola Olaniyan wrote seven books and over fifty articles that covered an extraordinary range of topics and genres: from the pop music of Nigerian Fela Kuti and his rebel art and politics to the plays of African American writers Ntozake Shange and Amiri Baraka; from the urban garrison architecture of Lagos and Accra to Caribbean liminal spaces evidenced in Derek Walcott’s writing; from the theories of Negritude to more recent trends of Afrocentrism, Postcolonialism, and Globalism. Olaniyan took both African political cartoons and American popular films like Coming to America seriously—that is, as expressions fully warranting academic analysis and critical self-reflexivity. This paper argues that implicit in Olaniyan’s intellectual legacy is an evolving theory and method of Global Black Cultural Studies. Through a systematic appraisal of his oeuvre, this presentation seeks to identify key principles of Global Black Cultural Studies as Olaniyan forged it, setting the stage for an appraisal of how his scholarship may guide an ever-evolving field of transdisciplinary teaching and research on Black cultures worldwide.  

Academic Research
Cultural & Artistic

  • The Africa Institute Fellowship

  • TOF Africa Summer Institute

Mentoring
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