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Popular Culture and Public Space in Africa: The Possibilities of Cultural Citizenship


Popular culture in Africa is increasingly intertwined with the public space of nations. Drawing on contemporary scholarship on popular culture, citizenship, and identity in transnational and global contexts, this article analyzes the phenomenal success of the television show Big Brother Africa in 2003 and argues that people's everyday engagement with popular culture, including television, must be a central component of understanding emergent public spaces and citizenship practices in Africa's present and future.


En Afrique, la culture populaire se fond de plus en plus avec l'espace public des états. S'appuyant sur des recherches récentes portant sur la culture populaire, la citoyenneté et l'identité dans un contexte transnational et mondial, cet article analyse le succès phénoménal que l'émission de télévision Big Brother Africa a rencontré en 2003 et démontre que la relation qu'entretiennent au quotidien les citoyens avec la culture populaire y compris la télévision est un élément essentiel pour comprendre les espaces publics et les pratiques citoyennes qui émergent dans l'Afrique d'aujourd'hui et de demain.

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A. Appadurai 1993. “Patriotism and Its Futures.” Public Culture 5: 41429.

C. Barnett 2004. Yizo Yizo: Citizenship, Commodification and Popular Culture in South Africa. Media, Culture and Society 26 (2): 251–71.

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S. Sassen 2001. The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

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African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
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