Humanities 211
Culture(s) & Literature of Africa
(Oral Arts &  Film)
Cora Agatucci

6 October 1998: Learning Resources

African Arts, Cultures & Religions Links 

What Is Culture? from WSU Learning Commons
(Authors:Eric Miraglia, Dept. of English/Student Advising and Learning Center; Dr. Richard Law, Director, General Education;
and Peg Collins, Information Technology, Learning Systems Group):
From baseline definition of culture follow links to important definitions, quotations, and discussions of culture.
Review related links to Women, Culture, & Power
| Introduction to Social Organization
Helpful glossary of key terms used, like the definition of Symbol, is also provided.
Link to
Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women & Gender the Ancient World:  

African Arts, Cultures & Religions

Islam: Empire of Faith (PBS Online):
Companion web site for PBS Empire series (aired 2002), telling the story of the great sweep of Islamic power and faith during its first 1,000 years, from the birth of the prophet Muhammad to the peak of the Ottoman Empire. The companion site offers more about the rich history of Islam, background information on the Islamic religion, key figures in cultural history, lesson plans and more.

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
Web site of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art is worth a visit. The What's New link from the homepage leads to 5 different specialized interfaces of the museum's collections: diversity, uses, imagery, currently on view, and advanced. For example, in the imagery section, you can search by Animal, Human, or Object Imagery. In diversity, clicking on a classification icon -- such as Architectural Elements, Costumes and Textiles, Tools and Equipment, or Toys -- takes you to a search screen for just that particular category, and the uses interface has its own set of categories from Adornment to Weaving. The on view interface searches only those objects that are on display, while advanced search covers more of the collection. For example, a search on Costumes and Textiles gets only one item in on view, and 29 in advanced. Another rich area of the site is Exhibitions, with over two dozen available, including selections from shows that have left the physical museum, such as Beautiful Bodies: Form and Decoration of African Pottery and In the Presence of Spirits: African Art from the National Museum of Ethnology, Lisbon. [DS, Scout Report]

Africa: Art of a Continent (Guggenheim Museum's 1996 exhibition), organized geographically, with concise and informative commentary on regional African cultures. Sample the arts of the Sahel and Savanna, or just browse this "virtual gallery" of wonderful images-- Home Page:
Of related interest:
...Lights on Africa: A Film Series,
with overview of contemporary African films, with still photographs, including mention of director Souleymane Cisse and the film Keita: Heritage of the Griot:
... In/sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present (1996 exhibition):

Africa Revisited: World Heritage Photo Essay is offered by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe. The link gets you to the Table of Contents page, from which you can proceed on a tour through exhibits representing Africa's cultural heritage.

African Abstraction: Dogon Figurative Sculpture (1996 exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago):

African Art (George A. Smathers Libraries, Univ. of Florida) 

African Art: Aesthetics and Meaning, an electronic exhibition catalog for this 1993 exhibit of the Bayly Art Museum at the University of Virginia; Guest curator: Benjamin C. Ray, Dept. of Religious Studies.
Be sure to read the brief introduction page and the elements of African Aesthetics page before viewing the 14 powerful African sculptures offered in this virtual exhibition.

African Art Links (Karen Fung, Stanford University Libraries/Academic Information Resources, 1994-1999)
NOTE: "Future new entries will be added by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' National Museum
of African Art Library
. Please see their web site for new African art internet resources."

African Odyssey Interactive (AOI, Kennedy Center ) presents rich resources for artists, teachers and students of African arts & culture: including:
....Introduction to African History and Cultural Life: An African Historical Framework
by Malaika Mutere (African Studies, Howard University):
...African Visual and Performing Arts
links to primary resource materials (e.g. images, audio and video files, and
documents) at a wide variety of quality websites:

African Philosophy Resources (Bruce Janz, Philosophy Dept., Augustana Univ. College, Alberta, Canada), with links to full text documents, reading lists, course syllabi, African philosophers, conferences, journals, & topics within African philosophy:

African Traditional Religion (Chidi Denis Isizoh) offers a bibliography, "Elements to Admire in African Traditional Religion," links to related sites, country statistics, a Map of Africa showing the spread of traditional religions, and a new page called "THE MEETING POINT: African Traditional Religion And Other Religions."
Index Page:

A-Piece-of-Africa African Arts & Crafts (Stephen Newton), "dedicated to providing the unsung artists of Africa with a base from which to display and sell their unique works. It is a job-creation project which buys art at retail prices from the sellers on the streets of Africa, and makes their products available to a worldwide client-base. Because of poverty, prejudice and lack of exposure to proper avenues for the display and merchandising of their work, African artists, who need recognition the most, are often relegated to situations which perpetuate their poverty. Supporting this website will help to redress that imbalance." 

Art and Life in Africa Online, an intro and guide to a related CD, offers valuable teaching aids, including a searchable catalogue of the Stnaley Collection of Africa Art, information on more than 100 African peoples, cultures, countries; and an online ALA Teacher's Guide with 47 lesson plans:

Augie N'kele (Congo-born artist) is "'a storyteller with his hands' and 'the man whose African heritage explodes in his art'" (DFW Connection Magazine). N'Kele uses sculpture to bring to life an astounding and moving story of the black experience in Forgotten Heritage, a three-dimensional chronicle of American and African life that spans more than 500 years."  
Visit N'kele's wonderful Home Page:

See also Art Journey: Out of Africa into America (H-E-B Satellite In The Classroom [SITC]) on the Forgotten Heritage Series by Augie N'kele:
Thanks to Dorothy Hamm for the update, 24 April 2002.

Baobab Project: Sources and Studies in African Visual Culture (Suzanne Preston Blier, Editor-in-Chief, Department of Fine Arts, Harvard University) was established in 1994 "to make African visual culture available to a broader audience, as well as to create a research tool which can be used by scholars and students alike." Thus focus of its investigation was why certain cultures, places, and periods encouraged creativity and innovation in the arts:
...Narratives, Resources Developed Using GIS, and Yoruba Masking Traditions (Nigeria)..

Cutting to the Essence, Shaping for the Fire: Yoruba and Akan Art in Wood and Metal - The Doorway:
A virtual art exhibition of West African art held at Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, Peoria, IL. Michael Conner's introductory essay, with map and photos, is the place to start the tour, with links to the two parts of the exhibition: "Cutting to the Essence" (Yoruba woodcarving) virtual gallery, text by Michael Conner; and "Shaping for the Fire" (Akan metalwork) virtual gallery, text by Martha Ehrlich.

An Eternity of Forest: Paintings by Mbuti Women (Univ. of California-Berkeley Art Museum exhibition) features vibrant barkcloth art of the Mbuti women (once known to the West as "pygmies") of the Ituri Forest of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congro (formerly Zaire):

FAMSF (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) presents a wonderfully informative illustrated tour introducing the nature, functions, and aesthetics of traditional and modern African arts, with photos of African artworks from FAMSF collections. Teacher’s Guide to African Art poses a series of questions any child or student--or teacher, for that matter--new to the study of African art might ask:
Do this one when you have some time to spend--Part 3 on African Aesthetics is very pertinent to Hum 211.

National Museum of African Art (Smithsonian Institution):
Of related interest: Smithsonian Africa (GIF)
images (UPenn):

SubSaharan African Art: Introduction, with photos of selected artwork from the permanent collection, is offered by the Michel C. Carlos Museum at Emory University:

West African Dahomean Vodoun (Mamaissii Danzi Hounon)--presents "a positive and realistic view of what the ancient Spiritual Tradition of what is popularly known as 'Voodoo' really is," and seeks to "provide to the West, a fundamental introduction to this ancient West African tradition. I am both a Mamaissii (Mami Wata) High Priestess, and Hounon of Yeveh (Dahomean) Vodoun by birth, inheritance, initiation and training. Hence, my primary purpose is to educate the public about this heretofore unknown aspect of our African Traditional Spiritual heritage," and to correct Western stereotypes. Note, too, that "we are student friendly" and welcome serious student inquiries "in understanding any aspect of our traditions" [email communication with Mamaissii D. H.]:
Of related interest: African Traditional Religions Forum- ATR:
"discussion of African Traditional Religions, for those learning on all levels. Everyone is welcome to share, debate, explore, seek, and learn!":

The World of Mande: History, Art and Ritual In the Mande Culture (People and Cultures of Africa: Anthropology 269, Franklin & Marshall College):

The World of the Yoruba: Ritual and Performance in Yorubaland (People and Cultures of Africa: Anthropology 269, Franklin & Marshall College):

African Links Table of Contents |

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Last Updated: 25 August 2004

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Humanities Department, Central Oregon Community College
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