Free Writing: Arts, (Religious) Politics and my Research
A free writing exercise to get back into writing mode after a bit more than a week spent at conferences in London and talking to friends, fellow students and my supervisor ... still constructive criticism and commentaries very much welcome ...
This morning, over my first of many cups of tea, I read Carmen's new blog entry about censorship in Kano, in particular recent moves to ban eleven Hausa songs - and here I quote Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulazi's blog (an article that was originally published in Leadership newspaper) - from 'listening, sale and circulation' on the grounds that they were 'obscene, confrontational and amoral.' To be honest my research is neither particularly concerned with Kannywood, i.e. the
I wouldn’t want to engage in any debate about the alleged/actual subversive or ‘amoral’ character of these songs or even whether censorship actually constitutes an effective means of controlling public/popular debates. I simply don’t know enough about the songs and even during my time in
One of the things it made me think of was the relevance of religion to artistic practices in
Of course, Shari’a and other religiously inspired policies do not only affect Muslims living in
Well, the extent to which Hausa films (and music) have attracted the attention of
In any case think about the excitement about the Danish cartoons a few years back that in fact led to riots, saw the destruction of Churches and a greater loss of lives in
I really wonder where that all leaves the more academia based practices such as painting or sculpture on a more general level. Obviously, there is the religious injunction against the ‘re-creation’ (isn’t this rather than ‘mere’ depiction the issue at heart of the religious argument? pls. correct me if I’m wrong) of ensouled (does such a term exist?) beings by artistic means that variously interpreted prohibits naturalistic representations of living beings in two- or/and three-dimensional arts. Then there is their exclusivity by which I mean that they are largely produced by artists trained at academic art departments which only admit certain sections of the population (as a completed primary and secondary school education is required) in itself operate within the confines of the enclosed spaces that are Nigerian university and college campuses, the enclosed and exclusive spaces such as the campuses, the History and Culture Bureau, the British Council or more recently the Goethe Institute (the latter three in Kano) as well as the (in relation to the average Nigerian’s income) high asking prices. At the same time discourses that in
For the moment these are all just questions I am asking, questions about if and how to consider the religious or religio-political dimension in my analysis of contemporary arts. This is me, somebody who I explained early is naturally suspicious of all-encompassing explanations of any kind, wondering to which here strictly speaking non-religious issues are being voiced using religious/Islamic terminology and how to account for this in my PhD. See, part of the problem is that I’m ‘just’ an art historian and that mine is a doctorate in art history not politics or even anthropology. Another big part is that my knowledge and grasp of contemporary Nigerian (religious) politics is naturally limited. When I write naturally I mean that not in terms of facts and opinion that I can read up about but the fact … well, simply speaking I am an outsider. One year in Nigeria, even more a year immersed in my own research-related and private battles, does not qualify me for any comprehensive political analysis, even less so of issues related to religious issues, Shari’a among others. But then, can I really ignore them? Carmen’s blog just reminded me that probably not. But can I make them the pre-dominant framework of my analysis. I don’t think so either. But then … How do I get around, or is there any way to get around, allegations of being biased? – And I have already have that in the past …
Do I yet have any solution? No. Otherwise I would be writing my chapter instead of bothering you with my ramblings, the results of what's more of a free writing exercise, a means of clarifying my thoughts than academic writing ... though hopefully that's what it will lead to, eventually.