Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

A History of African Popular Culture

$24.99 (G)

Part of New Approaches to African History

  • Date Published: January 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107624474

$ 24.99 (G)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Popular culture in Africa is the product of everyday life: the unofficial, the non-canonical. And it is the dynamism of this culture that makes Africa what it is. In this book, Karin Barber offers a journey through the history of music, theatre, fiction, song, dance, poetry, and film from the seventeenth century to the present day. From satires created by those living in West African coastal towns in the era of the slave trade, to the poetry and fiction of townships and mine compounds in South Africa, and from today's East African streets where Swahili hip hop artists gather to the juggernaut of the Nollywood film industry, this book weaves together a wealth of sites and scenes of cultural production. In doing so, it provides an ideal text for students and researchers seeking to learn more about the diversity, specificity and vibrancy of popular cultural forms in African history.

    • Proposes the first comprehensive historical account of popular culture in Africa
    • Provides the first comparative overview of popular culture across sub-Saharan Africa
    • Raises central questions and issues about the nature of different popular cultural forms and how they are generated in specific historical circumstances
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘In chapters packed with sparkling new visions of a field she helped to define a quarter-century ago, Karin Barber's book combines historical depth, careful attention to ‘life on the ground', and discussions of popular culture from the whole continent without losing the complexity of each art form. This book is a transformative must-read for anybody with an interest in African everyday cultures.' S. Newell, Yale University, Connecticut

    ‘Barber has written yet another milestone in the study of African popular culture. The quality of its prose and the wide range of scholarship covered make this book an instant classic. Music, dance, and other aesthetic forms are carefully yet critically situated in their social contexts, such as migrant labor, city life, and electronic modernity. A must for anyone interested in African societies, cultural history and popular arts.' Katrien Pype, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

    'Barber's exploration of popular culture producers and the reservoirs they tap of local resonance and trans-local flows is magisterial. Extracting fresh insight from studies across Africa, she upends existing theoretical models by showing how publics produce meaning through the act of consumption, and how producers continually consume to create anew.' Kelly Askew, University of Michigan

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107624474
    • length: 208 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 151 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Early popular culture: sources and silences
    3. Mines, migrant labour and township culture
    4. The city and the road
    5. The crowd, the state … and songs
    6. The media: globalisation and deregulation from the 1990s till today
    7. Conceptualising change in African popular culture

  • Author

    Karin Barber, University of Birmingham
    Karin Barber is a Fellow of the British Academy and Professor Emerita of African Cultural Anthropology at the University of Birmingham. She was appointed CBE in 2012 for services to African studies. She is the author of a number of books and articles on African popular culture, including The Generation of Plays: Yoruba Popular Life in Theatre (2000) and Yoruba Print Culture and the First Yoruba Novel (2012).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.