The growth of artistic nationalism in Senegal

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In the 1960s, Senegal's first national leaders narrowly defined how artists should practise nationalism through their work, particularly in the weaving craft, and enforced this definition through selective state patronage. This ideological and stylistic control echoed state control over economic markets. As subsequent administrations have restructured the economy, leading to a powerful informal business sector, so have independent contemporary weavers redefined artistic nationalism. Using ethnographic and archival interviews, this article examines nationalism in Senegalese weaving, placing the perspectives of contemporary weavers alongside those of two arts administrators who helped to develop state-sponsored programmes in the 1960s and 1970s. I argue that contemporary weavers find inspiration from Senegalese nationalism of the mid-twentieth century, yet have modified it to encompass individual expression. Because definitions of artistic nationalism in Senegal have shifted, it remains a significant ideology within the national arts scene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-395
Number of pages19
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Art
  • Artistic nationalism
  • Senegal
  • Weaving


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