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Title: Danse philosophique! : the social and political dynamics of Zouglou music in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, 1990-2008
Author: Schumann, Anne
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
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Zouglou is a popular music style of Cote d'Ivoire that is identified primarily through its outspoken lyrics of social comment and its dance with angular arm movements. It was born into a time of social upheaval in the country in the early 1990s, when students and professors were at the forefront of a movement demanding political pluralism: Today, Zouglou has also become Cote d'Ivoire's internationally most successful music. This thesis provides a detailed history of Zouglou's development from the university residence in Yopougon through the precarious neighbourhoods of Abidjan to its rise in international charts. It argues that the power of Zouglou music is located in a number of factors: as an urban music, Zouglou is not associated with any particular region or ethnic group; it is a supra-ethnic, national music which is of special significance at a time in Ivoirian history where political battles have divided the country into a northern and a southern half. As a new, urban musical form, Zouglou distinguishes itself through its use of Nouchi, the French street-slang spoken in Abidjan, and its use of very direct, outspoken texts, rather than of subtle, coded messages. It is well known that in many African cultures, musical performance is evaluated primarily through the song texts. Based on the idea that the strength of Zouglou music lies in its song texts, this thesis gives detailed analyses of their content. Zouglou's pervasive use of satirical humour has won it many listeners and great acclaim. Thus, Zouglou has in a real sense become street poetry, and its main themes criticise and comment on social problems. Zouglou is also known to criticise the behaviour of the political elite, and thus has gained a reputation as socially and political engaged music. Zouglou musicians have, through their songs, taken the initiative of public debate in the country, and have been considered as speaking in lieu of intellectuals, despite frequently being school drop-outs. In one of Zouglou's first recordings, its dance was described as a dancep hilosophique,a philosophical dance. Despite its intrinsically popular and mediated nature, Zouglou has, through its reflective song texts, remained true to this description, as this thesis demonstrates
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available