African Art in Transit
African art in transit is an absorbing account of the commodification and circulation of African objects in the international art market today. Based on extensive field research among art traders in Cote d'Ivoire, Christopher Steiner analyzes the role of the African middleman in linking those who produce and supply works of art in Africa with those who buy and collect so-called "primitive" art in Europe and America. Moving easily from ethnographic vignette to social theory, Steiner provides a lucid interpretation which reveals not only a complex economic network with its own internal logic and rules, but also an elaborate process of transcultural valuation and exchange. By focusing directly on the intermediaries in the African art trade, he unveils a critical new perspective on how symbolic codes and economic values are produced and mediated in the context of shifting geographic and cultural domains. He calls into question conventional definitions of authenticity in African art, demonstrating how the categories "authentic" and "traditional" are continually negotiated and redefined by a plurality of market participants spread out across the globe. This book will appeal to anthropologists, art historians, and anyone interested in the production of value in the art world, the mediation of knowledge in transcultural exchange, the invention of traditional aesthetic forms, and the ethnography of trade and bargaining in a contemporary African setting.
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Commodity outlets and the classification of goods
The division of labor and the management of capital
An economy of words bargaining and the social production of value
The political economy of ethnicity in a plural market
The quest for authenticity and the invention of African art
Cultural brokerage and the mediation of knowledge
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Abidjan aesthetic African art market African art objects African art trade African objects African traders Alhadji anthropology art dealers art traders artifacts artists auction authenticity bargaining process Baule Bouake Burkina Faso capital carved carver category art clients collection colonial commercial commoditization commodity context Cote d'lvoire Coulibaly cultural demand Dioula display Dogon economic ethnic groups ethnographic European example exchange expatriates fake Festimask figures gallery owner Grand Bassam Hausa trader Hotel indigenous itinerant suppliers Ivoirian kola nut Korhogo Lobi Madu market-place traders merchandise merchants middleman museums Muslim negotiation Nigeria particular pieces Plate Plateau market place potassium permanganate production profit purchase Richard Meier sell art seller Senufo slingshots social sold stall stallholders statues storehouse supply Susan Vogel symbolic Tanko trade beads traditional Treichville quarter urban Usuman village West Africa Western buyer Western collectors Wolof trader wooden writes Yaaro Yamoussoukro