The Township Musical World in a Transnational Perspective: Sophiatown (1930-1960)

French Institute Seminars in Humanities (FISH)
28 August 2013

11:00 – Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre
Cnr Toby Street & Edward Road
Sophiatown, Johannesburg


Charlotte Grabli
PhD Candidate, “Histoire et civilisations”, EHESS

Located on the fringe of the colonial cities, the Congolese and South-African townships gave rise to the most popular musical scene on the continent. In this context of exclusion from European domination, analysing the evolution of practices making up these musical worlds can shed light on popular logic and social dynamics at work in Brazzaville, Kinshasa and Johannesburg. By focusing on the example of spaces of sociability in the South African township of Sophiatown, I will discuss how musical practices contribute to the rise of the political culture. This community, that remains the symbol of the African creative autonomy, is a particularly revealing case.