Dartmouth Events

African Giants and the American Hegemon

Artists from megacities like Lagos or Seoul challenge the century-old global ascendancy of US cultural industries with Nollywood films, Afrobeats, K-Pop, and K-Drama.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024
5:30pm – 7:00pm
Loew Auditorium, Black Family Visual Arts Center
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

A Conversation with Vinzenz Hediger

In 1976 the Nigerian government produced a feature film, “Shehu Umar”, which was based on a Hausa language novel and premiered at FESTAC 77, the pan-African culture festival hosted by Nigeria. The film then disappeared – a key work of a post-colonial cinema which was given for lost and has only recently been rediscovered and restored. Today, Nigeria is one of the most prolific and successful producers of films and music worldwide.

What has changed? Just as new contenders like China, India or Brazil challenge the political and economic hegemony of the United States, megacities like Lagos, Istanbul, Mumbai, Seoul or Djakarta have emerged as new global centers of cultural production. Driven by a combination of affordable digital technologies, entrepreneurial ingenuity and cultural distinctiveness (plus, usually, a dose of hands-off government policy), Nollywood films, Afrobeats artists like Whizkid and Burnaboy, Korean K-Pop and K-Dramas now challenge the century-old ascendancy of US cultural industries from classical Hollywood cinema to the latest US global superstar, Taylor Swift.

But how much power do the “new kings of the world” really wield, as Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto calls them? Do we witness the dawn of a “new world order of cultural production”, or just a new iteration of US hegemony with minor variations? A historical perspective on Nigeria, based on recent work in the country’s national film archive, can be a good starting point to address these questions in a global perspective.

For more information, contact:
Ellen Henderson

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.