The Revolution's EchoesMusic, Politics, and Pleasure in Guinea

The Revolution's EchoesMusic, Politics, and Pleasure in Guinea

Nomi Dave

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226654461

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores the aesthetics of authoritarianism through a study of music and performance in the Republic of Guinea. Academic and popular commentators often emphasize music as a site for resistance and oppositional politics, while musicians who do support the state are framed as unwitting tools of propaganda. Moving beyond these assumptions, this book examines the choices and subjectivities of musicians who sing for an authoritarian state, and the experiences and desires of audiences who derive pleasure from this music. Since Guinea’s independence from France in 1958, music, performance, and voice have been central features of local cultural policies and ideologies. Key here was the adaptation of older forms of praise-singing – musical homage to nobles and rulers – in promotion of the postcolonial state. Yet this practice involves the active participation not just of government officials, but equally of musicians and audiences, who together maintain its relevance and great popularity. Today as Guinea makes an uneasy transition to democratic rule, such spectacles of public pleasure are becoming increasingly unstable, as new forms of protest and political voice complicate older aesthetic practices. Examining this shifting dynamic allows us to understand the lingering legacies of authoritarianism, and the ways in which post-socialist publics renegotiate the past, present, and future.