Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World

Rituals and Remembrances
Edited by Mamadou Diouf and Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo

Collected essays exploring the origins and evolution of music and dance in Afro-Atlantic culture


Along with linked modes of religiosity, music and dance have long occupied a central position in the ways in which Atlantic peoples have enacted, made sense of, and responded to their encounters with each other. This unique collection of essays connects nations from across the Atlantic—Senegal, Kenya, Trinidad, Cuba, Brazil, and the United States, among others—highlighting contemporary popular, folkloric, and religious music and dance. By tracking the continuous reframing, revision, and erasure of aural, oral, and corporeal traces, the contributors to Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World collectively argue that music and dance are the living evidence of a constant (re)composition and (re)mixing of local sounds and gestures.

Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World distinguishes itself as a collection focusing on the circulation of cultural forms across the Atlantic world, tracing the paths trod by a range of music and dance forms within, across, or beyond the variety of locales that constitute the Atlantic world. The editors and contributors do so, however, without assuming that these paths have been either always in line with national, regional, or continental boundaries or always transnational, transgressive, and perfectly hybrid/syncretic. This collection seeks to reorient the discourse on cultural forms moving in the Atlantic world by being attentive to the specifics of the forms—their specific geneses, the specific uses to which they are put by their creators and consumers, and the specific ways in which they travel or churn in place.

"Collecting essays by fourteen expert contributors into a trans-oceanic celebration and critique, Mamadou Diouf and Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo show how music, dance, and popular culture turn ways of remembering Africa into African ways of remembering.  With a mix of Nuyorican, Cuban, Haitian, Kenyan, Senegalese, Trinidagonian, and Brazilian beats, Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World proves that the pleasures of poly-rhythm belong to the realm of the discursive as well as the sonic and the kinesthetic."
—Joseph Roach, Sterling Professor of Theater, Yale University

"As necessary as it is brilliant, Rhythms of the Afro-Atlantic World dances across, beyond, and within the Black Atlantic Diaspora with the aplomb and skill befitting its editors and contributors."
—Mark Anthony Neal, author of Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic

Jacket photograph by Elias Irizarry

Mamadou Diouf is Leitner Family Professor of African Studies, Director of the Institute of African Studies, and Professor of History at Columbia University.

Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo is Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Contributors engage dance, music, and religion (a section is devoted to each) as forms of identity creation, resistance, agency, and counter-hegemonic cultural creation in both local and transnational contexts. ... Recommended."

  • "This ambitious volume, which emerged out of the University of Michigan Atlantic Studies Initiative, addresses the way circum-Atlantic communities recollect and reconfigure their histories through creative performance. The broadranging compilation features substantive contributions from more than fifteen authors, and spans the performative geographies of Africa, Europe, the
    Caribbean, and the Americas... Perhaps most important, the volume signals the underlying strength of performance: a deeply embodied refusal to forget."
    --New West Indian Guide

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Copyright © 2010, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 298pp.
  • 3 B&W photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07096-1

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  • $59.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90120-3

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  • Black music, Black popular culture, Washington DC Go Go music, Caribbean music, Salsa, Afro-Cuban music, Black Atlantic, Haitian culture, music, or dance, African hip hop, Brazil