Beyond “Africa Rising”?

by Dillon Mahoney, author of The Art of Connection: Risk, Mobility, and the Crafting of Transparency in Coastal Kenya

9780520292895What do African masks and cell phones have in common? They sit on the opposite ends of an evolutionary spectrum: one end representing the past and the other symbolizing the modern present. Since colonial times, African arts and crafts have often functioned to root Africa in the past. The absence or presence of ‘true art’ informed 19th century debates about whether Africa was rising or falling in the same way that digital technology does today. In 2011 and 2012, both The Economist and Time ran cover stories titled “Africa Rising,” focusing on the role new investments and digital technologies have played in boosting African economies. I would suggest that for the Western World, the image of an African holding a cell phone has become an iconic indicator of the extent of 21st century African achievement.

The central questions of my work examine the agenda and assumptions behind the ways by which technology use in Africa is depicted, and the disconnects between those assumptions and lived realities. The image of a cell phone in the hand of an African, which often accompanies such stories, has been a dominant trope of the Western media since the turn of the twenty-first century. Increased access to mobile communications is significant, but we must think carefully about who is producing the Africa Rising narrative and the images that accompany it.

When I began my research in urban Kenya in the early 2000s, few visitors could help but experience the popularity and usefulness of cell phones and Internet cafés. These new technologies were at the center of new patterns of cultural negotiation. Those who had long been denied full and equal participation in world affairs and economic development now were challenged to establish an identity in an environment decorated with the advertisements and billboards of service providers dangling the chance of economic success and social mobility before everyone. But how were the obvious benefits of new digital technologies being distributed? And what of the arts and crafts industry that had been capitalizing on ‘primitive’ and ‘tribal’ images of Africa for decades? How can Kenyans working in the country’s decades-old crafts and tourism industries negotiate the apparent symbolic contradiction of being modern African businesspeople?

The Art of Connection is an invitation to think critically about the politics of digital technologies in Africa today. The book provides a deeper look at the lives of East African tourism operators, crafts vendors, and ‘Fair Trade’ businesspeople who, while ‘grassroots,’ are also worldly and opportunistic. While connecting to the global economy has proved an insufficient pathway out of poverty for many, others have learned to appreciate the continual importance of mobilizing ethnic and family networks, carefully navigating legality and illegality, and balancing the intimacy and distance afforded by new mobile communication technologies for success. The Art of Connection shows us the importance of critiquing simplistic assumptions about technology and social change while embracing the complexity of diverse experiences of globalization in an East African city.


Dillon Mahoney is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida.


Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. (1937-2016)

by Guthrie P. Ramsey, series editor for Music of the African Diaspora

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Image via Columbia College

Sam Floyd, a prolific scholar and founding director of the Center for Black Music Research, passed away on July 11, 2016 in Chicago. Among his astonishing catalogue of accomplishments, Sam was the founding editor of Music of the African Diaspora, a series at the University of California Press. In this capacity, he sought out and curated a list of authors, whose topics covered the geographies of the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe and a multiplicity of genres such as jazz, gospel, Latin music and concert music.

I had the great fortune of being one of Sam’s authors in the series. I learned much from that experience. Although Sam was a visionary leader in every regard, another one of his singular strengths—perhaps, even superpower—was his desire and ability to collaborate. It was a talent that made him a natural editor. By example and through his kind but decisive words, he encouraged those around him to be their best. It’s rare to experience someone with as many administrative and scholarly projects in motion as Sam did have the inclination to guide the work of other scholars. Yet he did this consistently and successfully, earning him the deepest level of respect from colleagues around the world.

The establishment of the series indicates (and will continue to reflect) not only Sam’s interest in the African Diaspora but also his belief in interdisciplinary inquiry. One of his impactful contributions to the broader field of American music includes his use of the term “black music research,” a pre-hashtag phrase that I believe expressed some of the political urgency of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s. As he began to institutionalize his ideas through scholarship, fundraising and organizing, many joined his call. Composers, musicians of all stripes, music educators, music historians, ethnomusicologists, and music theorists, among others, attended the Center’s biannual conferences. They joined in with the common purpose of approaching black music research with the seriousness and comradery that Sam modeled. A gifted convener, Sam convinced established music societies to meet in conjunction with the Center for Black Music Research. The cross-fertilization of ideas that resulted through the years certainly can be felt in the books published in the Music of the African Diaspora series and in every corner of music scholarship.

When his work took a “theoretical” turn in the early 1990s, he applied the insights of poststructuralism, history and literary theory to black music research. This move culminated in a groundbreaking article on the ring shout ritual and his Call-Response concept, the imprint of which is now considered fundamental to black music studies. The passing of time will teach us more about the powerful influence Samuel Floyd’s exemplary scholarship, professionalism, generosity and activism had on American, Caribbean and African music studies. As someone who has felt that power directly on both the professional and personal level for the last thirty years, I can testify that it will be, without doubt, immeasurable.


Passover Hazelnut Sponge Cake

This is the final part of a series of recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check out the other recipes here.

 

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Passover Hazelnut Sponge Cake

Pan di Spagna alle Nocciole

A family favorite, this light, flourless Italian Passover cake is fragrant with sweet toasted hazelnuts—a specialty of the Piedmont region—and with subtle hints of citrus.

Serves 10 to 12

 

Ingredients:

10 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange (3 to 4 tablespoons juice)

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons juice)

11/2 cups finely ground toasted and peeled hazelnuts

6 tablespoons matzo cake meal, sifted

2 tablespoons potato starch

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready a 10-inch tube pan.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the citrus zests and juices. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speeduntil the mixture is thick and pale and holds a 3-second slowly dissolving ribbon when the beaters are lifted.

In a second bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. On medium-high speed, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg mixture just until combined, then fold in the hazelnuts, the matzo cake meal, potato starch, salt, and vanilla.

Pour the batter into the tube pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Invert the cake still in the pan onto a wire rack and let cool completely. To serve, lift off the pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve.

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Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.


Fish with Green Tahini

This is part two of a series of recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check out part one here.

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Fish with Green Tahini

Samak al Sahara

Samak is Arabic for fish. This recipe is a variation on the traditional Middle Eastern samak ba tahini where the fish is covered with sesame paste flavored with garlic, lemon, and onions and served at room temperature. Here the fish is served hot. To the basic tahini sauce the Egyptians and Lebanese add a tingle of heat with cayenne and add chopped cilantro and parsley, which tint the sauce pale green. The tahini crust on the fish keeps it moist throughout the baking process. You may garnish this with olives, chopped walnuts, or pine nuts along with more chopped cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges and a rice or bulgur pilaf. Spinach or roasted cauliflower or carrots are good accompaniments. If you do not want to bake the fish under the tahini you may also bake, broil or grill the fish and spoon the sauce on after cooking.

 

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

6 fillets of snapper, rockfish, sea bass, each about 6 ounces

1/2 cup tahini, including some of its oil

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

¼ teaspoon cayenne or a bit more

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup tightly packed cilantro leaves

½ cup chopped parsley leaves (optional for more greenery)

1/2 cup water or as needed to thin

Chopped walnuts or pine nuts for garnish (optional)

 

Instructions:

Combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, salt, cilantro and parsley if using, in the container of a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine. Add water as needed to thin. Adjust heat and salt to taste.

To cook the fish, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place fish fillets in an oiled baking dish and spread with a layer of the Sahara sauce. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Variation: Yellow tahini: Omit green leaves and add 1 teaspoon turmeric to the tahini when blending the sauce.

Variation: Red tahini: Omit green leaves and add chopped tomato or some tomato paste when you blend the tahini sauce or 1 roasted red bell pepper.

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Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.


Moroccan-Inspired Honeyed Eggplant

Over the next four weeks we will be sharing recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check back each Friday morning for a new recipe from the kitchens of three Mediterranean Jewish cultures: the Sephardic, the Maghrebi, and the Mizrahi.

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Moroccan-Inspired Honeyed Eggplant

Aubergine au Miel, or Barania

Traditionally served for breaking the fast at Yom Kippur, this dish is so seductive it will convert people to eggplant lovers. Using fresh ginger instead of dried makes all the difference.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 small or 2 medium Japanese eggplants cut in half lengthwise

Or 2 globe eggplant, peeled, and in one inch dice

Olive oil

2-3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ras al hanout

2 teaspoons ground toasted cumin

6 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt

Instructions:

Score the cut sides of the Japanese eggplants with a knife in a crosshatch pattern. Brush liberally with olive oil and place on griddle or in heavy sauté pan adding a bit more oil as needed. Cook on medium heat until eggplant is softened and golden, turning a few times.

If your market does not have Japanese eggplants you can also use 2 globe eggplants, peeled and cut in 1 inch dice and sauté in oil until golden.)

Mince fresh ginger and garlic in mini processor or grate or chop finely. In a wide saute pan large enough to hold the cooked eggplants (in one layer if possible) warm 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add ras al hanout and cumin and then stir in the honey, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Simmer for a few minutes, then transfer the eggplant to the pan, adding ¼ cup water if the sauce is stiff). Coat the eggplant with sauce and cook over low heat until eggplant absorbs most of the honey lemon mixture and becomes caramelized.

Variation: If you are entertaining and do not want to make this at the last minute, prepare the sauce and turn eggplant in the sauce for a few minutes. Then transfer to a baking dish and heat in a 350 degree oven until bubbly, about 25 minutes. If you like, sprinkle with sesame seeds, as for the dessert barania on page xx in the preserves chapter.

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Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.


Food Matters – But It’s Not Magical

by Garrett Broad, author of More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change

9780520287457Stop me if you’ve heard this oft-repeated claim of the alternative food movement:

We know that low-income people who live in “food deserts” tend to eat unhealthy foods and suffer from diet-related disease. So, if we could simply get them to understand the importance of healthy eating – perhaps by having young boys and girls taste a carrot grown in their own school garden – we would all be well on our way toward community health and sustainability.

I beg to differ, and my new book – More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change – counters this oversimplified, feel good story.

Indeed, throughout the life of the alternative food movement, many of its most popular programs have failed to recognize that nutritional inequity is actually linked to broader histories of racial, economic, and environmental discrimination. The “magic carrot” approach to community health promotion – which imbues gardening and nutrition education with almost mystical powers – has ultimately proved ill-equipped to tackle the systemic barriers that are at the root of food injustice and the health problems associated with it.

Based on years of ethnographic research and scholar-activism, More Than Just Food highlights the work of community-based food justice activists who do engage with these systemic realities. While these practitioners employ many of the same strategies that have come to characterize the alternative food movement in general – building gardens, providing nutrition education, and improving access to healthy food through alternative food networks – they do so in the purpose of a much larger cause. Situating food as a vehicle for a more expansive, people-of-color-led social justice transformation, they look to the legacy of groups like the Black Panther Party and its “Free Breakfast for Children Program” as a model for revolutionary food activism.

A primary aim of the book, then, is to highlight the capacity of community action to serve as a power base for a twenty-first century food justice movement. At the same time, however, the research cautions against overly romanticized visions of autonomous, community-based change, emphasizing instead the complicated and often contradictory nature of nonprofit food justice organizing today.

We are in a moment in which food justice groups, inspired by the likes of the Black Panther Party, also depend upon grants from the United States Department of Agriculture to achieve their community-based goals. What does this mean for the possibilities of a food revolution?

Read the book to find out more. But be advised that it contains neither magic carrots nor magic answers.

Garrett M. Broad is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University.


What Makes A Fine Wine?

by Mark A. Matthews, author of Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing

9780520276956What makes a fine wine?

According to authority figures in the world of wine, there is a series of concepts that should guide winegrowing practices. It’s not at all uncommon to see a wine description mention the vineyard’s “unique terroir” or that a producer’s low yields and/or small berries create desirable flavors that cannot be found in a competitor’s bottle.

These “principles” of fine winegrowing live in the popular wine press, in the stories repeated in tasting rooms and winery tours, on the back labels of bottles, and on the websites of producers – even creeping into research publications. As a result, the wine-consuming public accepts these ideas as facts. Yet, as an agronomist, I found the ideas unsatisfying and sometimes at odds with what we know about plant and fruit development. Finally, after years of studying the grapevine, drinking wines, and interacting with wine producers, critics, enology students, and dinner guests (all wine experts by their own account) – I became suspicious that I wasn’t the problem.

For nearly ten years, I studied the most popular winegrowing concepts, to understand how each principle arose, and whether it is still applicable today. As summarized in Terroir and Other Myths of Winegrowing, the most prevalent myths in the world of wine were held up to the light of scientific scholarship, the historical record, plant biology, and a bit of economics. While each principle follows a fascinating path to prominence, I concluded that in many cases, wine consumers are being sold a pig in a poke. These winegrowing myths have real marketing clout, but allegiance to them in the vineyard impedes innovation in winegrowing and limits consumers’ access and experiences.

Is “terroir” a marketing ploy obscuring knowledge of which environments really produce the best wine? What does it really mean to have vines that are “balanced” or grapes that are “physiologically mature”? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Mark A. Matthews is a Professor of Viticulture at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science at the University of California, Davis. A respected expert in the field of grapevine physiology, he has taught courses in viticulture and grapevine physiology at UC Davis for more than three decades.


Museums need neither Anarchy nor Hierarchy; Museums need Panarchy

by Selma Holo and Maite Alvarez, co-editors of Remix: Changing Conversations in Museums of the Americas

9780520284531Ecologists C. S. Holling and Lance Gunderson coined the idea of Panarchy. Panarchy is a way of apprehending the natural world that lies in direct oppo­sition to both hierarchy and anarchy, where influence is not predominantly “held by larger-scale, top-down processes”. No doubt our traditional networks of communication in the museum world do normally serve us well: they are efficient, and in their systematic, gridlike ways, they keep us connected to like-minded professionals and are useful for daily functioning. But these established networks also limit us because they are (even though we don’t ordinarily want to recognize it) by nature exclusionary.

To make space for a more panarchic non-hierarchal community we need to at the very least momen­tarily disrupt the generally accepted communications systems that exist in our field. At a time of specialization and separations we could all profit by finding a space where we can communicate differently, panarchically. We need to open ourselves up to networks of awareness –to think about “other” solutions that would involve scaling up, scaling down, individu­alizing, adapting, collectivizing, and breaking barriers, and thereby creating a communications approach that better approximates systems of contact that already happen in nature.

We don’t expect the hierarchical or disciplinary or gridded ways of meeting and communicating to disappear, nor are we encouraging anarchic, unframed conversations. Still, we do wish to challenge the expectation that the sometimes unconscious systems under which we operate and that continue to separate museums of differing types and sizes, differing scopes and levels of prestige, and different missions remain the best way to enrich the enterprise of the museum in our time. On this Museum Advocacy day we are rooting for establishing a place for Panarchy in the museum world.

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About Remix: Changing Conversations in Museums of the AmericasCelebrating the diversity of institutions in the United States, Latin America, and Canada, Remix aims to change the discourse about museums from the inside out, proposing a new, “panarchic”—nonhierarchical and adaptive—vision for museum practice. Selma Holo and Mari-Tere Álvarez offer an unconventional approach, one premised on breaching conventional systems of communication and challenging the dialogues that drive the field. Featuring more than forty authors, Remix frames a series of vital case studies demonstrating how specific museums, large and small, have profoundly advanced or creatively redefined their goals to meet their ever-changing worlds.

Selma Holo is Professor of Art History at University of Southern California and Director of USC’s Fisher Museum of Art and International Museum Institute. She is the author of Beyond the Prado: Museums and Identity in Democratic Spain and Oaxaca at the Crossroads: Managing Memory, Negotiating Change and a coeditor of Beyond the Turnstile: Making the Case for Museums and Sustainable Values.

Mari-Tere Álvarez is Project Specialist at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Associate Director of USC’s International Museum Institute. She coedited Beyond the Turnstile: Making the Case for Museums and Sustainable Values and Arts, Crafts, and Materials in the Age of Global Encounter, 1492–1800, a special edition of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.


Life-Cycle in the Museum World

by Selma Holo and Maite Alvarez, co-editors of Remix: Changing Conversations in Museums of the Americas

9780520284531In 2002, two ecologists developed a theory, which addressed systemic transformation in nature. They created an overarching, cross-scale, interdisciplinary, conceptual framework for looking at the ways people, nature, and their civilizations are organized in an adaptive cycle or life loop comprised of different stages of birth, growth, chaos and rebirth. Not surprisingly this theory which allowed for a better understanding of nature and its systems, has gone on to inspire scholars in a multitude of disciplines.

Life-cycle in the museum world can be envisioned as loop comprised of different stages: Origins, conserving, uncertainty, and renewal. As every museum passes through its lifecycle loop, it will pass through these various stages if it is to have a long, multigenerational life. Museums all have, in the beginning, their celebratory origins, followed by a period of increasing realism and maturity when they must take into account responsibilities, challenges, and contradictions associated with conserving—both the conservation of objects and questions around the conserving or revisiting of original philosophies and missions. Later on, uncertainties become more pronounced and reforms are floated and attempted—some succeeding and some failing. Next up there will inevitably be a period of renewal, once again summoning up the expenditure of great energy, along with a unique kind of tough critical thinking and the ability and courage to reexamine. But be forewarned: there is no end to this cycle. Ultimately, all museums are essentially living in a theater of dynamic change and movement—a mirror of the interplay of creative energy, stability, resilience, and change—and that there are more ways than we could imagine, to grow, adapt, change, and increase resiliency and sustainable development at every phase. The challenge, as in nature, is to maintain capacity for change, retain plasticity to adapt, and retain the values that mark museums as essential meaning-makers.

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About Remix: Changing Conversations in Museums of the AmericasCelebrating the diversity of institutions in the United States, Latin America, and Canada, Remix aims to change the discourse about museums from the inside out, proposing a new, “panarchic”—nonhierarchical and adaptive—vision for museum practice. Selma Holo and Mari-Tere Álvarez offer an unconventional approach, one premised on breaching conventional systems of communication and challenging the dialogues that drive the field. Featuring more than forty authors, Remix frames a series of vital case studies demonstrating how specific museums, large and small, have profoundly advanced or creatively redefined their goals to meet their ever-changing worlds.

Selma Holo is Professor of Art History at University of Southern California and Director of USC’s Fisher Museum of Art and International Museum Institute. She is the author of Beyond the Prado: Museums and Identity in Democratic Spain and Oaxaca at the Crossroads: Managing Memory, Negotiating Change and a coeditor of Beyond the Turnstile: Making the Case for Museums and Sustainable Values.

Mari-Tere Álvarez is Project Specialist at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Associate Director of USC’s International Museum Institute. She coedited Beyond the Turnstile: Making the Case for Museums and Sustainable Values and Arts, Crafts, and Materials in the Age of Global Encounter, 1492–1800, a special edition of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History.