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Ghana Study: Children's and Young Adult Literature

nmofokeng's picture

In our Ghana Study group we attempted to paint a picture of the evolution and current state of children's and young adult literature in Ghana. What we were in fact able to achieve was limtied due to  lack of specific information that was accessible to us on the scale of our small research project. There were some very interesting tidbits which emerged nonetheless particularly in learning about the structural and symbolic monopoly that prescribed school texts have on publishing prerogatives.

One of the main aims we had was to explore the presence and/or conceptions of culturally relevant content. This was the hardest factor to trace in the available literature. The information which was out there was often associated with very new initiatives or, rather interestingly, with the desire on the part of African American parents to find books about Africa for their own children. This made me rethink my own stance on the necessity of culturally relevant content because of questions such as "whose culture?" "relevant to whom?" These are important interrogations of what can at once be an important discussion of the lack of content produced by and for African audiences that gains wide circulation but also risks recreating the very problematic narrow definitions of what consitutes culture in Africa. The varying levels of modernization throughout the continent have fostered constantly evolving relations to culture as well as changing tastes. Failing to recognize this can cause us to gloss over the nuances of what might be recognized as culturally relevant.

Unfortunately, despite our desire to really delve deeply into this theme along with the other important sub-sections of our topic, we were unable to capture the classes interest to truly engage with this topic which has much resonance in the more proximate multicultural setting that is America to which we could all relate. Perhaps this conversation will come to revisit us, albeit in a slightly different form.


alesnick's picture

nuances/problematizing "cultural relevance"

I am blown away by the clarity and depth of your second paragraph.  You pinpoint so aptly, so clearly, the complexity of the notion of cultural relevance when culture is evolving (as it always is ) and polyglot (as it increasingly is).  

What I want to know is: what do YOU think?  Where do you come down, today, on this question?  

And the question of taste is so important to a view of cultural production and reception that regards the consumers' agency/preference/pleasure (desire).