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date: 25 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article has been commissioned as part of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Music Revival edited by Caroline Bithell and Juniper Hill. This essay examines the uses of revival performance in the politics of nationalism and regionalism in postcolonial Senegal. In the 1960s, President Léopold Sédar Senghor’s regime chose to foster the performing arts as an essential component in nation-building. This was in continuity with French colonial policy, in which educated young men had been encouraged to create a genre of school musical theater drawing on modern European theater, choreography, and regional traditions centered on the performance of historical epics. The National Ballet created in 1961 thus attempted to revive selective aspects of the region’s history to legitimize the politics of the present. The essay then shows how, when the state lost its capacity to act as an exclusive patron of the arts in the 1980s, urban migrants from regions at the margins of the nation, such as the Casamance, appropriated the genre for their own regionalist and transnational agendas.

Keywords: Senegal, Casamance, nationalism, regionalism, National Ballet, musical theatre, choreographic revival, Léopold Sédar Senghor

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