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Between Mass Culture and Africa's Cultural Heritage: Possibilities of a Dialectic

Joseph Ndeffo Fongue


With reference to cultural goods, this paper describes the African cultural heritage, stresses its relationship with mass culture, and investigates the possibilities of a dialectic between the two. African cultural goods include archaeological discoveries, ritual and court objects, ordinary or everyday objects, tourist art, and the European-American oriented African art. Although mass culture, as defined by the influence of `eurocentrism', has hitherto tried to underestimate and marginalize African cultural goods, the latter have asserted themselves since the beginning of the last century, and are beginning to reach the current international record prices on the global art market, with exemplars valuated and sold at many millions of U.S. dollars. Also, they are nowadays recognized as part of the `World Heritage'. Because of these features, they have become part of an elitist mass culture, and therefore in a position to attract millions of consumers through tourist activities. However, it is imperative that African countries implement credible cultural policies to index, protect and promote the still existing cultural sites and a somewhat delicate cultural heritage.

(The Journal of Cultural Studies: 2001 3(2): 307-315)

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eISSN: 1595-0956