Popobawa : Tanzanian Talk, Global Misreadings

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Since the 1960s, people on the islands off the coast of Tanzania have talked about being attacked by a mysterious creature called Popobawa, a shapeshifter often described as having an enormous penis. Popobawa's recurring attacks have become a popular subject for stories, conversation, gossip, and humor that has spread far beyond East Africa. Katrina Daly Thompson shows that talk about Popobawa becomes a tool that Swahili speakers use for various creative purposes such as subverting gender segregation, advertising homosexuality, or discussing female sexuality. By situating Popobawa discourse within the social and cultural world of the Swahili Coast as well as the wider world of global popular culture, Thompson demonstrates that uses of this legend are more diverse and complex than previously thought and provides insight into how women and men communicate in a place where taboo, prohibition, and restraint remain powerful cultural forces.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 238 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 13.72mm | 354g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253024560
  • 9780253024565
  • 1,462,682

Review quote

"Katrina Daly Thompson emphasizes the importance of understanding African cultural texts in relation to both local and global contexts. The result is a fascinatingstudy that moves in a compelling dialectic from the general to the specific and back again, entrancing andenlighteningthe reader in equal measure." -Martin Walsh, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge "While Popobawa surely belong to one of the most interesting African legends, Katrina Daly Thompson, instead of asking where the story originated, asks about how people talk about this trickster and what these conversations really mean." -Claudia Boehme, University of Triershow more

About Katrina Daly Thompson

Katrina Daly Thompson is Professor and Director of the Program in African Languages in the Department of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is author of Zimbabwe's Cinematic Arts (IUP).show more

Table of contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction1. Contextualizing Popobawa2. Voicing Expertise and Authority3. Talk and Believe: How to Prevent a Popobawa Attack in Two Easy Steps4. The Butt of a Joke5. Queering Popobawa6. Women as Sexual and Discursive Agents7. Batman in Africa8. Global MetanarrativesConclusionNotesBibliographyIndexshow more

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