Between “the Housewife” and “the Philosophy Professor”: Music, Narration and Address in Ousmane Sembene's Xala

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The acclaimed Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene conceptualised himself as a modern day griot (West African oral performer), producing often didactic films that address a diverse spectatorship. Examining Xala, this paper argues that this address cannot be fully understood without attention to the film’s complex music/image relationships, which refigure classical and modernist film aesthetics to mobilise a discourse that recalls oral performance. In this way, Sembene negotiates the tensions of address generated by a spectatorship that is situated in the culturally hybrid spaces between the literate and the oral, the urban and the rural, and the global and the local.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalVisual Anthropology
Journal publication dateJul 2011

ID: 615059