"We are like Chameleons" : Changing Mediascapes, Cultural Identities and City Sisters in Dar es Salaam
Abstract: The consequences of expanding mediascapes and processes of cultural globalisation during the early 21st century is the focus of this thesis. The author has conducted extensive field studies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She explores the construction of cultural and gendered identities at the intersection of notions of the local and the global, the rural and the urban, traditional and modern, female and male, and investigates the production of selves at the intersection of mediated and lived experience.The media often gets the blame for threatening authentic, indigenous cultures, and for influ-encing young people to give up ‘traditional’ ways of living and behaving. But as this study will emphasise, Tanzanian culture has always been charac-terised by multiculturalism and cultural processes of hybridity.This study analyses how media and popular culture produce cultural identities and gendered selves. The main characters are a group of young women from different places in Tanzania, with various backgrounds, who have in common that they for two years were secondary school students at a girls’ school in Dar es Salaam. Like for young people in most parts of the contem-porary world, particularly in urban areas, media and popular culture play a central role in these girls’ everyday lives, in a variety of ways, both positive and negative. The process of ‘becoming a woman’ turns out to be surrounded by conflicting ideas, expectations and ideals. Participation in the commercial youth culture, growing literally just outside the doors of the young women’s boarding school, may be as distant as the dream of a life in a remote country. But the imaginations and fantasies it gives rise to feed into their experiences and subjectivities as young women in early 21st century Tanzania.
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