SHAKA’S PROGENY: Historical reflections on global Zulu culture in the modern Atlantic world

Tuesday, 9 October, 2012 - 14:00

Presented by Benedict Carton

This talk explores inter-disciplinary approaches to studying the origins and trajectories of Zulu culture in an Atlantic world. Nineteenth-century Zulu culture—an evolving ethnic identity ritualized by indigenous knowledge and animated by global currents—became an evocative dimension of shared history linking South Africa and the United States, two societies with experiences of slavery, Christian missions, British colonialism, frontier wars, and high imperialism. This presentation traces how elements of Zulu culture were carried into Atlantic circuits of exchange, and how purveyors of these elements, Zulu people among them, influenced the racial ideologies and popular entertainments shaping modern South Africa and the United States. The issues raised draw on a forthcoming book co-authored with Robert Vinson. Chapter titles of this book provide chronological and thematic structure for our discussions: 1) the evangelical roots of Zulu imagery in America, 1830-1900; 2) an African-American liberator in fin de siècle South Africa; 3) minstrel legacies of Zuluness in America, 1900-1930; 4) and the epic Zulu and rise of Hip Hop in the Anti-Apartheid era.