By Laura Fair
“Reel Pleasures provides a fresh and exciting account of the experience of twentieth-century and especially late-twentieth-century Africa through the prism of the movies. Fair masterfully integrates the diverse and complicated elements that define a comprehensive examination of film: economic and business history, political history, and the histories of social change, media, and popular culture. A landmark work in both history and film studies.”
Charles Ambler, author of Kenyan Communities in the Age of Imperialism
Reel Pleasures brings the world of African moviehouses and the publics they engendered to life, revealing how local fans creatively reworked global media—from Indian melodrama to Italian westerns, kung fu, and blaxploitation films—to speak to local dreams and desires. In it, Laura Fair zeroes in on Tanzanians’ extraordinarily dynamic media cultures to demonstrate how the public and private worlds of film reception brought communities together and contributed to the construction of genders, generations, and urban citizenship over time.
Radically reframing the literatures on media exhibition, distribution, and reception, Reel Pleasures demonstrates how local entrepreneurs and fans worked together to forge the most successful cinema industry in colonial sub-Saharan Africa. The result is a major contribution to the literature on transnational commodity cultures.
Laura Fair is an Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University. She is author of Pastimes and Politics: Culture, Community, and Identity in Post-Abolition Urban Zanzibar, 1890–1945 and Historia ya Jamii ya Zanzibar na Nyimbo za Siti binti Saad.
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