Chapter 3

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This chapter analyses two principal cultural works: Ivorian Coupé-décalé music and Alain Mabanckou’s novel Black Bazar (2009). On its surface, Black Bazar seems to participate in the larger trend of ‘writing to right’ explored in chapter 2 within what scholars have termed ‘Black France’. A closer look, however, reveals that the novel’s main protagonist’s (Fessologue’s) seeming refusal to engage politically about notions of race and ethnicity is merely a façade that exposes and subsequently calls into question the position of the ‘minority-author-as-native-informant’ ascribed to those authors and artists studied in chapter 2. Chapter 3 proposes that in addition to using the Congolese fashion Sape movement as a means to examine the tension between writing and reading, the novel also employs ‘literary Sape’ to similar effect. The chapter’s reading of Black Bazar, then, exposes how Fessologue’s danse des griffes—a carefully crafted set of cultural references interrogates institutionalized spectacularism in the cultural realm. Through this formal device, Mabanckou slyly subverts those same reading strategies to which he knows he and his works will be subjected. In so doing, the novel also complements the formal, theoretical interventions Mabanckou (and other authors) has made in interrogating the designation ‘Francophonie’.

Black Bazar

In this chapter, I primarily focus my analyses on Alain Mabanckou’s 2009 novel, Black Bazar [Black Bazaarin English]. This novel, however, is part of a larger intermedial project, also entitled Black Bazar, which, to date, consists of the novel, two music albums (Black Bazar, and Black Bazar Round 2) and a one-man stage performance by […]

Coupé-Décalé Music

In this chapter, I put Alain Mabanckou’s Black Bazar (2009) into dialog with Ivorian coupé-décalé music. Both draw from and put into practice (albeit in different ways) fashion practices from the Congolese Sape movement. Note the danses des griffes in the coupé-décalé videos, as well as the three nouchi (Ivorian street slang) terms I analyze […]

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Sape Fashion

This chapter draws from the Congolese cultural movement known as La Sape (an acronym for La société des ambiance’s et des personnes éléganges) to understand the ways Alain Mabanckou’s novel Black Bazar exposes and subverts the reading practices to which his novel will be subjected. Below you will find additional selected resources that illustrate particularly […]