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Afro-Superheroes: Prepossessing the Future

Coetzee, Carli (2016) 'Afro-Superheroes: Prepossessing the Future.' Journal of African Cultural Studies, 28 (3). pp. 241-244.

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In ‘Popular Arts in Africa’, published in 1987, Karin Barber made passing reference to the syncretic use made of Marvel Comic superheroes alongside figures from Twi folktales, in comics produced in Accra and Kumasi in the 1970s (1987). In these comics, Marvel superheroes and folklore figures, she wrote, have in common their special powers, and a past that stretches beyond the lives of everyday Ghanaians. In the explosion of these figures into the lives of ordinary people, their special powers offer political transformation and access to an otherworldly (sometimes, but not always, ancestrally supported) ability to change this world. The increasing visibility of African superheroes (or what Adilifu Nama has termed so memorably ‘Super Blacks’, 2011) might look, from a certain point of view, like evidence of the increasing infiltration of transnational consumerism into youth cultural forms in African contexts. The papers in this collection on Afro-superheroes argue the opposite: Afro-superheroes, the authors show in their analysis of their often arresting material, are embedded in contemporary political and social contexts and provide us with ways of understanding the emergent present.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Afro-superheroes
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa
ISSN: 14699346
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2016.1168082
Depositing User: Carli Coetzee
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2016 18:32
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/22319


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