Metamorphosis in the culture market of Niger

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17 Scopus citations


The banner of authenticity is falling in the contemporary market for non-Western culture. Taking Tuareg artisanry in Niger as a case study, I show that the neocolonial Western habit of collecting "exotic" art objects is giving way to a more collaborative proclivity toward Western objects produced in "traditional" Tuareg style. While Tuareg artisans - adjusting to social and cultural upheavals attending the urbanization of their practice and the recent Tuareg separatist rebellion - are producing such hybrid "modern" objects, some Tuareg nobles, impoverished by those same changes, have begun painting representational images of a more "authentic" Tuareg culture. The nature of the competition between Tuareg artisans and nobles, as well as the complex cross-identification between Tuaregs and their Western expatriate customers, illuminate a general perplexity about modernity in the contemporary Third World and indicate a transformation in the terms of its encounter with the West.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-501
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • And modernity and tradition
  • Art and artisanry
  • Authenticity
  • Expatriates
  • Tuaregs


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