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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- And modernity and tradition
- Art and artisanry