Congratulations Brigitte Salami

September 04, 2018

Congratulations to Brigitte Salami on the publication of "Festivals in West Africa" which was solicited for publication by Oxford Bibliographies in Art History. 

Salami's specialization is in African Art. She has conducted extensive field research in the Middle Cross River region of Nigeria (1998, 1999, 2001-02, 2006, 2011), where Yakurr and their neighbors celebrate elaborate new yam festivals. These give rise to performances practices, processions, masquerades, body arts, etc. Her interests further span modern, contemporary, and transnational African art. Much of her thought is rooted in postcolonial theory.

Brigitte is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a FLAS (Foreign Language and Areas Studies) Fellowship (1999), the Distinguished Master Thesis Award of the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools (2000), a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship (2001-02), a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute with jonit-residency at the National Museum of African Art and the National Museum of Natural History(2010), a West African Research Association Fellowship (2011), and a Sainsbury Research Center Visiting Fellowship at the University of East Anglia (2011). Her coedited Wiley Blackwell volume (2013), A Companion to Modern African Art, received ACASA‘s (Arts Council of the African Studies Association) Honorable Mention for the 2014 Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award.

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Here is an excerpt:

Historically, many Africans have solidified their bonds by celebrating spectacular festivals. Prior to and during the early colonial era, these festivals engaged all members of a society (including invisible beings) and drew on all available artistic resources. In the 21st century the rural, metropolitan, national, and global communities to which contemporary Africans belong (or to which they wish to belong) vary dramatically in size, constitution, and outlook; accordingly, their festivals take on many different forms. To obtain information on community celebrations across time and across the African continent, researchers will need to consult a vast literature spanning Egyptology, anthropology, history, religious studies, sociology, and art history. This article thus includes only sources that focus on festivals in West Africa (defined here as Sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal in the west to Niger and Nigeria in the east), omitting those held elsewhere. It delves not only into the literature on traditional festivals but also considers Pan-Afro-Caribbean carnivals, imperial spectacles, European-inflected regional and national celebrations, postcolonial mega-events, UNESCO-designated masterpieces of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and the features of contemporary art biennials that resemble other forms of cultural celebrations. Most of the selected texts emphasize the structure of festivals and consider their proceedings from start to finish. Works that do not meet this criterion were included because they examine overarching themes or offer a particularly keen analysis of an aspect of a festival. Despite their importance, African festivals have rarely been at the center of art-historical investigations. As early celebrations were discussed by anthropologists rather than by artists or art historians, their descriptions are almost always buried in ethnographies. Postcolonial efforts to document traditional festivals’ capacity to create meaning in a contemporary society, even when they are being rapidly absorbed into a burgeoning heritage industry, have primarily appeared as journal articles. The same can be said of analyses of art events that constitute part of the global art circuit.