Why material culture matters: part I

A new blog from Sara Dorman

Material Culture of Politics in Africa

As the images in our Flickr group show African political life is vibrant, colourful and intense.  In recent decades we have seen the emergence of powerful political reform movements, NGO campaigns speaking both to world and local audiences, and much exhortation aimed at voters, drinkers, and those at risk of contracting the AIDS virus to change their behaviour.  Yet the material culture of these movements is ephemeral – posters, pamphlets, and t-shirts are rapidly consumed, but rarely preserved, despite it having much to tell us much about its producers and intended recipients.

Our goal is to contribute to the protection and preservation of some of this material, with a view to enabling contemporary researchers, future historians, and the interested public to gain a richer and more diverse understanding of Africa’s public life than that often portrayed on screens and newspapers in the West.

In much the same way as explorers…

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