Archiving the First World Festival of Negro Arts (Dakar 1966): recuperation, nostalgia and utopianism

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This article will examine the concepts of recuperation, nostalgia and utopianism in relation to the First World Festival of Negro Arts, which was held in Dakar in 1966, in part through an exploration of how this event was evoked in the third edition of the festival (known as FESMAN) in 2010. It will address a series of intriguing questions about the difficulties involved in locating an archive of ephemeral, performance-based events, which may leave few material traces after they have been completed. Although the major Pan-African cultural festivals of the 1960s are regularly cited (usually in passing) as key illustrations of the utopianism that marked the period of decolonization, the issue of their actual legacy in terms of popular, institutional and official national memory is a complex one. The first half of the article will thus explore the official archive of the 1966 festival, while also attempting to identify new ways of engaging with some of its legacies for its multiple audiences. The second half of the article will then explore what FESMAN 2010 reveals about the prevalence of processes of recuperation and nostalgia, but also the ongoing utopian engagement with the Pan-African archive in contemporary encounters with these ephemeral events from the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-146
Number of pages22
JournalWorld Art
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2016


  • festivals
  • archive
  • performance
  • nostalgia
  • African renaissance

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