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The Sole of Africa: Shoes in Borom Sarret (1963), La Noire de…/Black Girl (1966) and Hyènes/Hyenas (1992)

Langford, Rachael 2020. The Sole of Africa: Shoes in Borom Sarret (1963), La Noire de…/Black Girl (1966) and Hyènes/Hyenas (1992). In: Ezra, Elizabeth and Wheatley, Catherine eds. Shoe ReShoe Reels: The History and Philosophy of Footwear in Film els: The History and Philosophy of Footwear in Film, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press,

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This chapter explores the depiction of footwear and barefootedness in three African films, two from the immediate post-Independence decade of the 1960s (Borom Sarret (1963) and La Noire de…/Black Girl (1966)), and one from a later period marked by structural adjustment and globalisation (Hyènes/Hyenas (1992)). The chapter traces the ways in which these films mobilise and extend the critical reach of images of footwear against the backdrop of colonialism’s correlation of barefootedness to savagery and footwear to civilisation. The chapter starts by exploring critical approaches to clothing practices in Africa, and the applicability of these to the different ontological status of footwear. It then examines textual images of shoes in Bernard Dadié and Fantz Fanon’s critical postcolonial writings, demonstrating how these works set out paradigms that frame the images of footwear and barefootedness found in African films. The chapter then focuses down on a detailed reading of screen images of footwear in Borom Sarret (1963) and La Noire de…/Black Girl (1966,) two pivotal works that reflect on the post-Independence African zeitgeist. The third film studied, Hyènes (1992) by Djibril Diop Mambety offers a counterpoint, as it adapts a European play and was released long after the immediate post-Independence era. Its images of footwear demonstrate continuity and change in the deployment of the resistant charge of footwear on film. The chapter concludes by suggesting that attending to images of footwear in African film faciliates better understanding of the topoi of individual agency, power and politics in contemporary African cultural production and about film’s wider relationship to the study of material culture.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: In Press
Schools: Modern Languages
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2020 02:21

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