Antinomies of African aesthetics and the impulses of aesthetic relativism: reading p?Bitek, Abiodun and Agawu

Antinomies of African aesthetics and the impulses of aesthetic relativism: reading p?Bitek, Abiodun and Agawu

Author: 
Sanga, Imani
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2017
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
African Identities
Source: 
African Identities, Volume 15, Number 3, 2017, 310-323
Subject: 
Abstract: 

This article examines the antinomies arising due to the deployment of the concept of African aesthetics in three essays by African scholars namely, Okot p'Bitek, Rowland Abiodun and Kofi Agawu. The three essays highlight unique features of various art forms, practices and the associated discourses among the Acholi of northern Uganda, the Yoruba of Nigeria and the northern Ewe of Ghana. They also advocate the use of conceptual paradigms which are either derived from the local discourses concerning the arts in specific cultural communities or developed in relation to the specific artistic practices of these communities in Africa. This article argues that the use of the concept of African aesthetics in these essays is at odd with the aesthetics relativistic arguments they advocate. In many ways, the specificity and plurality of aesthetic communities defended in the essays subvert any unified conception of African aesthetics, a concept that presupposes a large community far beyond an ethnic group which is the focus of each of the essays in question. The article also re-examines the adoption of the concept of aesthetics in relation to the arts of Africa and discusses the antinomies associated to its deployment in these critical essays.

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CITATION: Sanga, Imani. Antinomies of African aesthetics and the impulses of aesthetic relativism: reading p?Bitek, Abiodun and Agawu . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2017. African Identities, Volume 15, Number 3, 2017, 310-323 - Available at: http://library.au.int/antinomies-african-aesthetics-and-impulses-aesthetic-relativism-reading-pbitek-abiodun-and-agawu