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Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial? Author(s): Kwame Anthony Appiah Source: Critical

Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial? Author(s): Kwame Anthony Appiah Source: Critical Inquiry, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Winter, 1991), pp. 336-357 Published by: The University of Chicago Press

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Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?

Kwame Anthony Appiah

Tu t'appelais Bimbircokak Et tout &taitbien ainsi

Tu es denvenu Victor-Emile-Louis-Henri-Joseph Ce

Autant

Ne rappellepoint ta parent6 avec

Roqueffelere

qui

qu'il

m'en souvienne

-YAMBO OUOLOGUEM, "A Mon Mari"

In 1987, the Center for African Art in New York organized a show

on African Art." The curator, Susan

Vogel, had worked with a number of "cocurators," whom I list in order

of their appearance

Ekpo Eyo,

National

ment of painting

organizer

Century Art"; Romare Bearden, African-American painter; Ivan Karp,

at the Smithsonian; Nancy Graves, Euro-

sculptor, and filmmaker; James Baldwin, who

art collector and

Kouakou, Baule artist and diviner from the

richest and poorest, side by

friend of the mighty; Lela

Ivory Coast (this a delicious juxtaposition,

surely needs no qualifying glosses;

pean-American painter,

exhibit,

at the Museum of Modern Art and

entitled "Perspectives: Angles

in the table of contents of the exhibition catalogue:

of antiquities of the

quondam director of the department

Museum of Nigeria; William Rubin, director of the depart-

and sculpture

of its controversial

"Primitivism

and Twentieth-

curator of African ethnology

David Rockefeller,

side); Iba N'Diaye, Senegalese

sculptor; and Robert Farris Thompson,

Critical Inquiry 17 (Winter 1991)

? 1991 by The University of Chicago. 0093-1896/91/1702-0001$01.00.

336

All rights reserved.

Critical Inquiry

Winter 1991

337

Yale professor and Africanand African-Americanart historian.' In her

introductoryessay,Vogel

describesthe process of selection used to pick

artworks for the

type

and

select ten for the show. Or, I should say more

offered to

Baule artist,

At this

only

Baule

point we are directed to a footnote to the

show. The one woman and nine men were each

and asked to

this is what was

adds that "in the case of the

offered a hundred-odd photographs of "Africanart as varied in

origin,

and as

high

in

quality,

as we

could manage"

eight

of the men. For

Vogel

exactly,

a man familiar only with the art of his own people,

were

placed

in the

pool

of

photographs"(P, p. whichreads:

essay,

11).

objects

Showing

have been

him the same assortmentof photos the others saw would

in terms of the reactions we

own and others, have from other

interesting,

but

confusing

sought here. Field aesthetics studies, my

shown that African informantswill criticize

ethnic groups

assuming

aesthetictradition. [P, p. 17 n. 2]

sculptures

in terms of their own traditional

criteria, often

that such works are

simply inept carvings of their own

shall return to this irresistiblefootnote in a moment. But let me to quote further, this time from the words of David Rockefeller,

who would surely never "criticize sculptures from other ethnic groups

pause

I

in terms of [his]

callsa "Fantifemale figure":

own traditionalcriteria,"

discussing what the catalogue

I own somewhat similar

them. This is a

things to this, and I have always liked

version than the ones

rather more sophisticated

thought

it was

quite

that I've seen, and I

beautiful.

.

.

. the total

composition has a very contemporary,very

the kind of thing, I think, that goes very well with

rary Western things. It wouldlook verygood in

or house. [P, p. 138]

Western look to it. It's

contempo-

a modern apartment

We

judgment creators. For a footnote to the earlier checklist-the

final

that Rockefeller was

was consistent with the

delighted intentions of the

to discover that his

may suppose

sculpture's list of artworks

1. Perspectives:Angles on African Art (exhibition New York, 1987), [p. 9]; hereafter abbreviated P.

catalogue,

Center for African Art,

Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor

of

philosophy and literature

at Duke University, is the author of a number of books, including For

Truth in Semantics

House

His first novel,

(1986), NecessaryQuestions(1989), and In My Father's

a collection of

essays

on

African cultural politics.

(forthcoming),

AvengingAngel, was published in 1990.

338 Kwame AnthonyAppiah

Postmodern, Postcolonial

ultimately Art desires to "make

public figure in its collection has been

Ross

my hometown of Kumasi by the workshop of a certain Francis Akwasi,

which

of the Fante

challenged." Indeed, work by Doran

chosen for the show-reveals

this

object

the

that the BaltimoreMuseumof

piece produced in

style

fact that the authenticity

certainly a

modern

suggests

is almost

"specializes in carvings

sculpture.

for the internationalmarket in the

of traditional

throughout the West, and were published as authentic by Cole and

Ross" (yes, the same Doran Ross) in their classic catalogue, TheArts of

Many of its works are now in museums

Ghana (P,

p. 29).

as

his reason for

given to me by

President Houphouet Boigny of the Ivory Coast" (P, p. 143); or who

remarks "concerning the marketin Africanart":

have to say that I picked this because I own it. It was

this time a Senufo helmet mask, "I

But then it is hard to be surewhat would

picking

another

piece,

please a man who gives

the

the less

And that's a fine

bad.

best pieces are going

good pieces

They

have a

for

very high prices. Generallyspeaking,

quality are

the

not

price.

ones rather than the

going up

in

good

appealing to use

with

everything,

in terms of

reason for picking

way

of becoming more valuable.

I find would be

I look at Africanart

as objects

in a home or an office.

necessarily-although

goes well with contemporary architecture. [P, p. 131]

I don't think it goes

the very best perhaps

does. But I think it

There is

movement between considerationsof

these

in contemporary-which

something breathtakinglyunpretentious

in Rockefeller's

easy

In

finance, aesthetics, and decor.

we have surely a microcosmof the site of the African

is, then, surely to

say,postmodern-America.

the

emphasize of what we call "aesthetic" value are

questions with market value, nor even to drawattention to the

so much from Rockefeller not to

by those who play

responses,

I have

quoted

familiar fact that

crucially bound up

the art market. Rather I want

to keep clearly before us the fact that David Rockefelleris permitted to

say

because he is at the center, while Lela Kouakou, who

and who dwells at the

buyer and

merely makes art

African whose words count

only as parts of the commodification2-both for those of us who consti-

fact that this is known

anything at all about the arts of Africa because he is a

margins, is a poor

2. I should insist now, the first time that I use this word, that I do not share the widespread negative evaluation of commodification; its merits, I believe, must be assessed case by case. Certainly critics such as Kobena Mercer (for example, in his "Black Hair/

Style Politics," New Formations3 [Winter 1987]: 33-54) have persuasively criticized any reflexive rejection of the commodity form, which so often reinstates the hoary humanist opposition between the "authentic" and the "commercial." Mercer explores the avenues by which marginalized groups have manipulated commodified artifacts in culturally novel and expressive ways.

Critical Inquiry

Winter 1991

339

tute the museum public and for collectors,

like Rockefeller-of

Baule

art." I want to remind you, in short, of how important it is that African

art is a commodity. But the cocurator

Baldwin, the only cocurator who picked a piece that was not in the mold of the Africa of "Primitivism." The sculpture that will be my touchstone is a Yoruba piece that carries the museum label, Man with a Bicycle(fig. 1). Here is some of what Baldwin said about it:

whose choice will set us on our way is James

This is something.

going

might prove to be impossible

something has challenged

by the bicycle.

He's dressed

[P, p. 125]

This has got to be contemporary.

very authoritative.

He is

He's really

His errand

to town! It's very jaunty,

.

.

challenging something-or

in immediate

reality

. He's apparently a very proud and silent man.

Nothing looks like it fits him too well.

him. He's grounded

sort of polyglot.

Baldwin's reading of this piece is, of course and inevitably, "in terms of

[his] own

criteria," a reaction contextualized

only by the knowledge

that bicycles are new in Africa and that this piece, anyway, does not look anything like the works he recalls seeing from his earliest child-

hood at the Schomburg Museum in Harlem. His response torpedoes

Vogel's argument for her notion that the only "authentically traditional" African-the only one whose responses, as she says, could have been found a century ago-must be refused a choice among Africa's art cultures because he-unlike the rest of the cocurators, who are Ameri-

crite-

ria." The message is that this Baule diviner, this authentically African

villager, does not know what we, authentic postmodernists, now know:

cans and the European-educated Africans-will use his "own

that the first and last mistake is to judge the Other on one's own terms. And so, in the name of this relativist insight, we impose our judgment:

that Lela Kouakou may not judge sculpture from beyond the Baule culture zone, because he, like all the other African "informants" we have met in the field, will read them as if they were meant to meet those Baule standards.

to explain Kouakou's responses as

deriving from an ignorance

no doubt is supposed to be, like most "traditional" artists today, if he is,

for example, like

artists by his own standards (what on earth else could he, could anyone,

do save make no judgment at all?), but to suppose that he is unaware

Worse than this, it is nonsense

of other traditions-if

indeed he is, as he

Francis Akwasi of Kumasi. Kouakou may judge other

3. Once Vogel has thus refused Kouakou a voice, it is less surprising that his comments turn out to be composite also. On closer inspection, it turns out that there is no

Kouakou is, in the

end, quite exactly an invention, thus

ularly "our" artists, are individuals while "they," and "theirs," are ethnic types.

literalizing the sense in which "we," and more partic-

single Lela Kouakou who was interviewed

like the other cocurators.

FIG.1.-Man witha Bicycle, Yoruba, Nigeria, 20th century. W o o d , 3 5 3

FIG.1.-Man witha Bicycle, Yoruba, Nigeria, 20th century.

Wood, 353/". Collection

of The Newark Museum, Purchase 1977 WallaceM.

Scudder Bequest Fund and The

Members' Fund. Photo: Jerry Thompson,

1986.

Critical Inquiry

Winter 1991

341

that there are other standardswithin Africa (let alone without) is to

ignore a piece of absolutely basic cultural

precolonial as well as to most colonial and postcolonial

continent:the

we now call "Baule"exist at all. To

Baule, not to be a white

knowledge, common to most cultures on the

knowledge that explainswhy the people

be Baule, for example, is, for a

piece

of cultural

person, not to be Senufo, not to be French.4

us with an

of the

postcolonial

But Baldwin'sMan with a Bicycle does more than give the lie to

that can serve as

image of contemporary African art that

Vogel's

a point of entry to my theme, a piece

will allow us to

postmodern. Man witha Bicycle is describedas follows in the exhibition

catalogue:

and the

strange footnote; it provides

explore the articulation

Manwitha Bicycle

Yoruba,

paint The NewarkMuseum

Wood and

Nigeria

20th

H. 35

century

/4in.

The

bicycle

represents a merchanten route to market.

influence of the Western world is revealed in the clothes and

sculpture which probably

of this neo-traditional Yoruba

[P, p. 23]

It is this wordneotraditional-awordthat is almost right-that I think, the fundamentalclue.

provides,

But I do not know how to

explain

this clue without first

and Fredric

saying

how

keep my bearings

Jiirgen

I

island of the the

through

in the shark-infestedwaters around the semantic

the word

postmodernism

Jameson

postmodern. The task of chasing

pages

of

Jean-FrangoisLyotard

and

of the Village Voiceand the TLSand even

Habermas,in and out

the New YorkTimes Book Review is

bicyclist will eventually

I do not

certainly exhausting.

Yet there is, I

think, a story to tell about all these stories-or,

there are many, but this, for the moment, is mine-and,

Yoruba

of course, I should say,

as I tell it, the

come backinto view.

surprise)

(this will come as no

in the

have a definition of the

modern/postmodern

to

postmodern to put

place of Jameson's or Lyotard's, but there is

now a rough

dichotomy

poetry which it has been invoked.

In each of these domainsthere is an antecedent practice that laid claim

philosophy

consensusabout the structureof the

in the

domains-from

many to rock music to the movies-in

architecture to

4.

It is absolutely crucial that Vogel does not draw her line according to racial or

and the African-American

cocurators

be on "our" side of the great divide. The issue here is something less

national categories: the Nigerian, the Senegalese,

are each allowed to obvious than racism.

342 Kwame AnthonyAppiah

Postmodern, Postcolonial

to a certain

is a name for the

almost always more playful,though

practice

modernismfollows from the fact that in each domain this

exclusivity assumesa particularshape,

of its

leave

cultural,

that life-to

and postmodernity.5 It is an

should have become

answer

surely commodified. To sell oneself and

place, one must, above all, clear a space in which one is distinguished

from other

that constitute

social,

exclusivity of insight,

rejection

and in

each of them "postmodernism"

exclusivity,

a

rejection

that is

than the

of that claimto

not

necessarily less serious,

it aims to

replace.

That this will not do as a

definition of post-

of

rejection

one that reflects the

specificities

is to

setting.

open

To understandthe various

the

question

postmodernisms this way

contemporary

of how their theories of

and economic life relate to the actual

practices leave open, then, the relations between

important question why

so

this

postmodernism

of the ancestors

distancing

central a feature of our cultural lives. The

has to do with the sense in which art is

one's products

producers and products-and

marking

increasingly as art in the market-

one does this

by

the

of differences. To create a market for

bottled waters, for

differences in mineral content and source of

carbonationwere essentialmodes of distinction.

It is this need for distinctions in the market that accounts for a

certain intensification of the Renaissance art

aesthetic individualism,

ing to the oeuvre of an individual, and the absorption of the artist'slife

as modes of iden-

into the conception

belong-

production: in the age of mechanical reproduction,

individualism of post-

subtle (even untastable)

first, to establish that

construction and the

example, it was necessary,

long-standing

the characterizationof the artworkas

workcan be seen precisely

of his

history sense in whichone knows

of the

tifying objects for the market. The sculptor of the man with a bicycle,

by contrast, will not be known by those who buy this object; his individ-

ual life will make no difference to the future

knows this, in the

(Indeed, he surely

whose

something about the object

availability

surroundthe object and distinguish

sculpture.

anything

negation

one has never even considered.) Nevertheless, there is

that servesto establishit for the market:the

of Yoruba culture and of stories about Yoruba culture to

it from "folkart"from elsewhere.

which all postmodernisms and because

Postmodern culture is the culture in

operate, sometimes in synergy, sometimes in competition;

contemporary culture

is, in a certain sense to which I shall return,

5.

Where the practice is theory-literary

or philosophical-postmodernism as a

if it reflects to some extent the realitiesof

theory of postmodernity can be adequateonly

that practice, becausethe practice itself is fully theoretical.But when a postmodernism

addresses,say,advertising or poetry,

conflicts with their own narratives, their theories of themselves. For, unlike

and literarytheory, advertising and poetry are not largely constituted by their articulated

philosophy

theoriesof themselves.

it may be adequate

as an accountof them even if it

Critical Inquiry

Winter 1991

343

transnational, postmodern

does not mean that it is the cultureof

culture is

global-though

every person

emphatically in the world.

that

If postmodernism is the project of transcending some species of

of

a privileged modernity,

be

Bicycle is presumably to

modernism, which is to say some relatively self-conscious, self-privileg-

our neotraditional sculptor of Man

understood, by contrast, as premod-

ern, that is, traditional. (I am supposing, then, that being neotraditional

witha

ing project

what work the neo-does is matter for a

later moment.) And the sociological and anthropological narrativesof

tradition through which he or she came to be

nated, of course, by MaxWeber.

so theorized is domi-

is a way of being traditional;

Weber'scharacterizationof

opposition to rational authority

modernity as

the

traditional (and charismatic)authority

with his

keeping rationalization of the

charac-

in

terization of

insistedon the

the rest of humankind:

is in

general

world;

and he

significance of this characteristically Western process for

A

of universal

history, circumstancesthe fact shouldbe attributedthat in Westernciviliza-

tion, and in Western civilization only, cultural

appeared which (as we like to think) lie in a line of development

having universal significance and value.6

product of modern European civilization,

studyingany problem

is bound to askhimself to what combinationof

phenomena have

Now there is certainly no doubt that Western

modernity now has a

universal

and his Amerindianchieftainsof the Amazonrain forest or PaulSimon

and the Mbaqangamusicians of Graceland-is testimony to that. But, if

I

like to think" reflects his doubts

clearly of

ernism

bicycle

it is to be valued), but just as the presence of

fact, its contentremindsus that the trade is

argue we must first understand

why longer be seen as the tendency either of the West or of history, why, simplyput, the modernist characterizationof modernity must be chal-

geographicalsignificance.

The Yoruba

bicyclist-like

Sting

may borrow someone else's borrowing, the fact is that the Empire of

Signs about whether the Western imperium over the world was as

universalvalueas it was

strikes back. Weber's "as we

certainly

of

universal significance; and postmod-

endorses his resistance to this claim. The man with a

fully enters our museumsto be valued

by us (Rockefeller tells us how the object remindsus of this two-way.

I want to

that to understandour-our

human-modernity, the rationalizationof the world can no

6. Max Weber,

TheProtestantEthic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons

(London, 1930),p. 13.

344 Kwame AnthonyAppiah

Postmodern, Postcolonial

lenged.

rationality of what he called rationalization

inevitability; it is, then, to have a radically post-Weberian conception of

modernity.

of its

To understand

our world is to reject Weber's claim for the

and his projection

T. S. Eliot abhors the soullessness and the secularization of modern

society, the reach of Enlightenment rationalism into the whole world. He shares Weber's account of modernity and more straightforwardly deplores it. Le Corbusier favors rationalization-a house is a "machine for living in"-but he, too, shares Weber's vision of modernity. And, of course, the great rationalists-the believers in a transhistorical reason triumphing in the world-from Kant on, are the source of Weber's Kantian vision. Modernism in literature, architecture, and philosophy-

the account of modernity

domains seeks to

domain rationalization, the pervasion of reason, is seen as the distinctive

dynamic of contemporary history.

beginning Weberian rationalization

is in fact what has occurred historically. For

Weber, charismatic authority-the authority of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Che Guevara, Kwame Nkrumah-is antirational, yet modernity has been dominated by just such charisma. Secularization hardly seems to be proceeding: religions grow in all parts of the world; more than ninety percent of North Americans still avow some sort of theism; what we call "fundamentalism" is as alive in the West as it is in Africa and the Middle

and Far Easts; Jimmy Swaggart and Billy Graham have business in Louis- iana and California as well as in Costa Rica and Ghana. What we can see in all these cases, I think, is not the triumph of

Enlightenment Reason-which

charisma and the universalization of the secular-not

tion of a narrower instrumental reason into all spheres of life, but what

Weber mistook for that:

world and all areas of even

omy. Even in domains like religion

recognize that the market has at best an ambiguous place, modernity has turned every element of the real into a sign, and the sign reads "for sale." If Weberian talk of the triumph of instrumental reason can now be seen to be a mistake, the disenchantment of the world, that is, the pene-

tration of a scientific vision of things, describes at most the tiny-and in

of the higher academy and a

few islands of its influence.

the United States quite marginal-world

that, on my model, postmodernism in these

subvert-may be for reason or against it, but in each

of postmodern

wisdom

is to ask whether

But the

would have entailed exactly the end of

even the penetra-

the incorporation of all areas of the

namely,

formerly "private" life into the money econ-

where instrumental reason would

What we have seen in recent times in the

United States is not secularization-the end of religions-but their commodification; and with that commodification religions have reached further and grown-their markets have expanded-rather than died.

7:5-P r. :;:?0.4 :B '?51 .i;:?u~r~r~sl~-~sl:i~Xaa.r~a~i~sa11?~~L~I~II~------?~CI--?I~ IIP~:~ IT: ?VN"
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IIP~:~
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FIG.2.-In

outsidethe

August

1990, after I had

completed this piece, I found this figure on sale at the

too

GhanaNational CulturalCenter in Kumasi.It

obvious to require spelling

When I

by

tion of AnthonyAppiah," as the museumworld

Apraku,manager

graphics.

exemplifies

and

expressesmy argument

in

to be

ways

out. It is a "traditional"AkanAkuaba doll, a kind often sold to tourists.

passing

inquired

shop.

who had carved it, the saleswoman pointed out a man who

He

gave

me

his card, andso I am able to recordthat this

might

have it) is more

happened

piece ("from the

collec-

importantly the workof Gyau

of Acarv Enterprise, a carverfrom Foase-Atwimain Ashanti.Photo: CCI Photo-

346 Kwame AnthonyAppiah

Postmodern, Postcolonial

Postmodernismcan be seen, then, as a retheorizationof the

the underlying dynamic

space.

the need to clear oneself a

prolif-

eration of distinctionsthat reflects

modernity, omizationof the worldas the

triumph that claim, allowing in the realm of

distinctionsthat modernity had begun.

of cultural

Modernismsawthe econ-

postmodernismrejects

same proliferation

of

of reason;

theory the

That, then,

is how I believe the issue looks from here. But how

does it look from the postcolonialspaces inhabited by Manwitha Bicycle?

about Africa, with confidence both that some of what

I have to

first about the

of these so-calledneotraditionalartworksand then about the

on

the novel (as theorists of

inclined to do) is to distort the culturalsituationand the significance of

postcoloniality withinit. do not know when Manwitha Bicycle was made or by whom; Afri-

African cultures have been

producers case of the African novel, because I believe that to focus

say it will not work at all in some

will work elsewhere in the so-calledThird Worldand that

I

shall speak

places.

And I shall

speak

exclusively

contemporary

I

can art has, until

groups, one of the

list

by

twentieth-century works. (And no one will be

are kindly

that most of them

own the largely private

cannot

is

independence in

certainly

ditional.

produced

in

African

Western

have a

"genuinely" traditional piece, by

believe to be made

that

ity.

precolonialtechniques but neo- (this, for what it is worth, is the explana-

supposed

tion

methods

These buyers are a minor-

recently,

been collected as the

artist, even

property so it is not unusualthat not

by contrast,

people

who

a result I

that

of "ethnic"

not of individualsand

pieces

workshops, in the "Perspectives" show wasidentified in the check-

though many of them are

the name of an individual

surprised,

labeled with the names of the

collections where

they now live.) As

to

a

genre

say

if the

been

piece

literallypostcolonial,produced after Nigerian

has

1960. But the

piece belongs

genre

produced

since then: the

that is here called neotra-

Simply put,

what is distinctive about this genre is that it is

Of course, many of the buyers of first instancelive

citizens of African states. But

for the West.

bourgeois

style,

I

should qualify.

Africa; many

of them are

and, if

juridically consumersof neotraditionalart are educated in the

they

want African art, they would often rather

which I mean a

style

piece that they

and

by

at least in a

precolonially, or established

were already

precolonially.

Most of this art-traditional

I

because it uses actual or

promised earlier) because it has elements that are recognizably

colonial or postcolonial in reference-has ists and other collectors.

been made for Western tour-

The incorporation of these works in the West's museum culture

of course, to do with postmod-

and its art market has almost nothing,

Critical Inquiry

Winter 1991

347

ernism.

is modernist:it is the ideology that brought something called "Bali"to

called "Africa"to Pablo Picasso, and some-

Antonin

as an

official Other was criticized, of course, from its beginnings: hence

Oscar Wilde'sobservationthat "the whole of

There is no modernistis

muddledconviction that Africanart should not be

post-

invention.

thing called "Japan" to Roland Barthes. (This incorporation

By

and

large,

the

ideology through which they are incorporated

Artaud, something

Japan is a pure

such country, there are no such people.")7 What is

Vogel's "interms of [someone else's] traditionalcriteria."For modern-

universalaesthetic possible to value it.

possible were largely seeking

an Archimedean point outside their own cultures for a critique of a

Weberian modernity.

however

culture-and

The

criteria, and by these standardsit was

ism,

judged

primitive art was to be judged by putatively

sculptors and painters

finally who found it

found

they

are to

history-transcending standards.

The neotraditional object is

For postmodernisms,by contrast, these works,

be understood, cannot

be seen as legitimated by

useful as a model, despite its marginality

in most African lives, because its

opposed to the many objects

fully in nonbourgeois homes: stools, for example) reminds one that in

culture and mass

culture,

the distinction between those with and those without

formaleducationas culturalconsumers. The fact that the distinction is to be made this

most of

sub-Saharan Africa, that the

only in domains where there is a

body of Western formal

training. This excludes (in most places) the plastic arts and music.

There are distinctionsof

we call "traditional"music and urban dwellers alike,

bourgeois and nonbourgeois, listen, through discs and, more impor-

that we still practice and value; but village

variouscultural purposes there is something

incorporation in the museumworld (as

made by the same hands that live peace-

Africa, by contrast,

the distinction between

high all, corresponds,by and large, to

Western-style

way-in of South Africa-means

insofaras if it makessense at

excluding the Republic

opposition

between high culture and mass culture is available

genre

significant

and audience in African music, and for

Jackson, and to King Sonny

the domain in which such a

distinction makes the most sense is the one domain where that distinc-

tion is powerful and pervasive:namely, in African writing in Western

languages. So that it is here that we find, I think, a place for considera-

tion of

culture.

tant, on the radio, to reggae, to Michael

Ad6.

And this means that,

by and large,

the question of the postcoloniality of contemporary African

p. 45.

7. Oscar Wilde, "The Decay of Lying: An Observation,"Intentions (London, 1909),

348 Kwame AnthonyAppiah

Postmodern, Postcolonial

Postcoloniality is the condition of what we might ungenerously call

Western-

a

group culturalcommoditiesof world

they

trained

compradorintelligentsia:

of

are known

a

relatively

small,

Western-style,

mediate

writers and

thinkers, who

capitalism

they

at the

the trade in

through

an

In the West

compatriots know

them

Africa

music

and

powerfully,

by

postcolonial,

like the

Africancultural

life-what

are not in this way concerned with

coloniality. Indeed,

its

sitive to, not so much dismissiveof as blind to, the issue of neocolonial-

ism or "cultural imperialism."

irrelevantto these formsof culture, for the interna-