African Realities: Body, Culture and Social Tensions
African Realities: Body, Culture and Social Tensions is the result of research anthropology work carried out in different African countries, mainly in Equatorial Guinea, but also in Senegal, Cabo Verde, Benin and Ethiopia. All the different chapters of this volume address a diversity of subjects related to relevant issues, such as gender, age, social class, ethnicity and coloniality, which are indispensable for understanding current African realities. Furthermore, all of these chapters investigate the importance people place on the body and, more concretely, the manner in which these people present it to others as a common denominator.
After a brief theoretical introduction about the key concept of the book – the social presentation of the body – the contributors analyse the results of their own fieldwork, taking as a starting point the central role that the body plays in the relationship between the individual and society. As is clearly shown in this book, the social presentation of the body matters. From a general and structural point of view it matters because of its great significance within social logics, but it also matters because of its relevant role in situational dynamics of social interaction, and because of its close relationship with the emotional registers of individuals.
If the issue related to the social presentation of the body has an undoubted interest for the academic milieu, it is also true that it has great social relevance and constitutes an undeniable political concern. The policies related to the social presentation of the body serve to mark, justify, maintain or even build hierarchical relationships of social order, at the level of class, gender, ethnicity or age. Throughout the book, and from the African studies perspective, different views are offered concerning how the body, being not only medium of expression, but at the same time a site of experience and construction of the self, appears in the centre of social tensions and is an object of strategy, control or resistance.
Josep Martí is an anthropologist working at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Barcelona. His primary subjects of research have been centred on the fields of the new social meanings of intangible cultural heritage, collective identities and culture, expressive culture, the anthropology of beliefs, and the anthropology of the body. He has carried out fieldwork in various different European countries, in Japan, and, over the last several years, in Equatorial Guinea.
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