In late Spring 2014, the nonprofit organization Creative Time commissioned artist Kara Walker to create her first large-scale public installation. Hosted in the industrial relics of the leg- endary Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, Walker’s A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby was as controversial as it was revered. The powerful presence of the installation, coupled with its immersion in historical consciousness, makes A Subtlety rich in educational value. This article engages in a comparative reading of A Subtlety in the light of female writers and thinkers from the Caribbean, but also incorporates some of the generative questions Walker’s installation has pro- voked my students to ask. I especially engage questions on how to unravel the mixed metaphors that make A Subtlety the artistic embodiment of the textured experience of the African diaspora, with its complex history, cultural hybridity and transnational ramifications. While Walker’s instal- lation seems to sustain its many layers of meanings through both form and content, the (mostly white, US-born) students in my class have responded to it in a range of critical ways that pointed especially to their emotional and critical response toward female Blackness, and reflections about the artist’s responsibility toward her intention. The article reflects on the inherent possibilities for teaching A Subtlety and other forms of what I consider “vulnerable art,” which at its best helps to channel our collective and personal discomfort in effective, healing ways.
‘Underdevelopment and Dependence in Black Africa: Historical Origin’
Keeping in mind the variety of social, cultural and economic conditions distinguishing African Societies, the author divides the continent into three macro-regions: (1) Africa of the colonial economy (enlarged West Africa) (2) Africa of the concession companies (Congo Basin) (3) Africa of the labor reserves (East and South Africa).The dialectics between colonial policies and social formations and modes of production in ternal to the regions are seen as a major determinant in shaping the history of underdevelopment in Black Africa. On this basis, four historical periods are analyzed : (1) The pre-mercantilist period (2) The mercantilist period (3) The preparatory phase for colonization (4) The colonization period. Concluding the discussion of the colonization period, the author points to the necessity of viewing African socities as dependent, peripheral ones, shaped according to the needs of dominant, capitalist societies.
Women, Gender and Development in Africa
Gender denotes the social prescriptions associated with biological sex in regard to roles, behaviour, appearance, cognition, emotions, and so on. Social relations of gender or gender relations encompass all relationships in which gender subjectivities play a role, including those among people, and between people and the institutions, systems, and processes of development. The chapter describes three features of gender relations that are generally consistent across societies – gender ideologies and myths; gendered division of labor; and unequal power relationships – and discusses their implications for development. The chapter further explains the centrality of gender to the development enterprise and discusses various approaches to integrating gender analysis in development processes.