Postmamboism: History Through Music


“Open your ears to hear words, songs and other important matters.”

Last week, while looking up poetry from the Harlem Renaissance writers, and the Jazz drummer, Art Blakey, for my honors thesis, I stumbled upon a piece by Ned Sublette wrote two years ago about his theory of “Postmamboism:”

“…Postmamboism is closely allied with (but not limited to) history, anthropology, linguistics, literature and critical theory, cultural studies, religious studies, urban studies, communications, performing and plastic arts, and all manner of Africanist and Hispanist study, to say nothing of musicology and ethnomusicology. Overlapping with other theoretical perspectives, Postmamboism is intrinsically cross-disciplinary and bi-directional: if music provides a way to hear into history, history also provides a necessary grounding to the study of music.

Postmamboism acknowledges a dialectic between its essential reference point of music that is popular (literally, of the people, signifying music that springs from historical roots and, relying on memory and person-to-person transmission, is infinitely renewable), and pop, which is presentist and must be mediated, consumed and replaced. Postmamboism speaks in the vernacular, deprivileging jargon, cultic language, and hyperpolysyllabicism. Postmamboism values the testimony, experience, and vocabulary of cultural practitioners, because for Postmamboists as for musicians, theory must be connected to practice…”

Ned Sublette is a writer, historian, photographer and singer-songwriter, who has written several books, including “The Year Before the Flood” about the city of New Orleans. He definitely has an interesting theory, especially with the progressive and activist tone of it, and it should receive more attention; maybe I will become a postmamboist one day.

And speaking of Mambo, here is Arsensio Rodriguez, the Cuban bandleader who claimed to be the “Father of the Mambo” and from whom the first quote is derived.


The Last Angel of History

Do you know how long I have been trying to find this film?! And the only place where I can find it, sells it for almost $300!!!!

Directed by Ghana-born English director, John Akomfrah, the 1995 documentary, The Last Angel of History,explores the intersections between Black music, science fiction, and African Diasporic religion, spirituality and history. The “data thief” collects fragments of the past to crack a code to open the door to his future. It is similar to the West African word, Sankofa, which I have a tattoo of on my back.

“In keeping with the futuristic tenor of the film, the interviews are intercut with images of Pan-African life from different periods of history, jumping between time and space from the past to the future to the present, not unlike the mode of many rock videos or surfing the Internet.”

This film is perfect for someone like me, fusing together several of my interests and providing some of the basis for my blog.

Anyone want to go on an archeological dig with me on the internet to find a cheaper DVD of this film or to find where this film is showing?

Welcome To My New Blog!

This is Aker, Ms. Futuristically Ancient and I am a Time Traveler!

My name Aker (pronounced Ah-Care) comes from an ancient Egyptian god represented by two lions facing opposite each other with the sun in between. He was know as the god of yesterday and tomorrow as well as the horizon. He also guarded the underworld through which the sun passed through creating the night and when it came out, day would come.

The reason why my blog focuses on putting culture into a historical context has to do with the god Aker, who relates to West African word Sankofa and the Greek god Janus. We did not come from nothing. The past, present and future are all connected and the past has had an influence on the way we are now. By learning the past, we can better situate ourselves within time and better handle our future.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me!


The Sankofic Now: Reimagining the Past + Manifesting the Future

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