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Highlife Saturday Night: Popular Music and Social Change in Urban Ghana [Paperback]

Nathan Plageman

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2012 African Expressive Cultures

Highlife Saturday Night captures the vibrancy of Saturday nights in Ghana—when musicians took to the stage and dancers took to the floor—in this penetrating look at musical leisure during a time of social, political, and cultural change. Framing dance band "highlife" music as a central medium through which Ghanaians negotiated gendered and generational social relations, Nate Plageman shows how popular music was central to the rhythm of daily life in a West African nation. He traces the history of highlife in urban Ghana during much of the 20th century and documents a range of figures that fueled the music’s emergence, evolution, and explosive popularity. This book is generously enhanced by audiovisual material on the Ethnomusicology Multimedia website.


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"this book is well-written and will appeal to those interested in Ghanaian urban history and highlife music, as well as those wanting to know more about youth and popular culture in general. The
analysis of the history and organization of the social and literary clubs is some of the most insightful in the book. Plageman also excels in his portrayal of highlife music, musicians, and middle-class men. This book makes significant contributions to the history of highlife music and successfully weaves highlife musical culture into the wider social and political net of urban Ghana." —American Historical Review



"Explores a relatively unknown period of an important social and cultural institution—highlife music—and brings new insights and signficance to popular expressive forms." —Suzanne Gott, University of British Columbia, Okanagan



"Going beyond a mere account of highlife's origins and development, it offers a history of popular music and its relationship to the cultural, gendered, political, and social fabric of urban Ghana." —Stephan F. Miescher, University of California, Santa Barbara



"Dr. Plageman has written an excellent book.... [T]his publication does more than merely document the features of highlife music in urban Ghana: it also investigates the material basis and the political import of this genre of music.... As a document of urban history, this book is brilliant. It is a major addition to the small collection of books on the history of urban Ghana.... [I]t significantly extends existing work because it takes an urban-wide view and substantially analyses youth culture in terms of its political, historical, social and even economic dynamics." —African Review of Economics and Finance

About the Author

Nate Plageman is Assistant Professor of History at Wake Forest University.


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