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Ghana Jazz Transnationalism: Music, African Migration, Diasporic Dialogues, and Scene.

Boateng, Samuel (2023) Ghana Jazz Transnationalism: Music, African Migration, Diasporic Dialogues, and Scene. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation documents how Ghanaian artists in Ghana, Britain, and the United States articulate their modern identities, create as well as maintain diasporic solidarities, foreground Africa’s agency in the world, and navigate a politics of cultural and career sustainability through jazz as a performance and political framework. It unsettles accepted narratives that cast Africa as the primitive past of jazz by amplifying the voices of Ghanaian artists engaged in jazz collaborations between 1915 and 2020. Rather than relegating Africa to the fringes of jazz history, this study focuses on transnational migration, Pan-Africanism, intercultural encounters, musical collaboration, and cosmopolitanism to offer new insights for understanding the continuous and mutual influences between Africa and the African diaspora. Jazz is influential to various cultural expressions around the world. In the West African country of Ghana, the 1920s and 1930s came with professional musicians known for playing swing, ragtime, and ballroom music for middleclass and cosmopolitan listeners. Historically, Ghanaian artists have influenced transnational music scenes and cultural collectives beyond Africa by drawing on jazz as a means for creating new connections. Socio-politically, jazz continues to resonate with Pan-African and anti-colonial activism across Africa and it articulates various modes of Black diasporic solidarities among Africans. Yet, the history of jazz has traditionally been written as the story of sounds, styles, and artists originating in the United States, while the music’s global trajectories and transnational meanings are often sidelined. Within the US-centric jazz canon, Africa is imagined as the primitive, static, and originary precursor of the Black diaspora, and the idea of Africa is deployed to legitimize the musical and spiritual efficacy of jazz. Meanwhile, the US-centric jazz canon continues to deny African artists of any sustained and meaningful engagement with the music. This dissertation argues that Africa’s simultaneous marginalization and exoticization within jazz is indicative of wider colonial and racist ideals found in Eurocentric views of modernity. This work challenges the construction and dissemination of Eurocentric jazz discourses by advocating for a decolonial approach to jazz research.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHeller,
Committee MemberFeld,
Committee MemberAvorgbedor, Kodzo
Committee MemberWeintraub,
Committee MemberJohnson,
Date: 5 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 April 2023
Approval Date: 5 September 2023
Submission Date: 4 August 2023
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 412
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ghana; Jazz; History; Diaspora; African Migration; Scene; Encounters; Collaboration; Cosmopolitanism; Identity; Covid-19, Pan-Africanism, Space, Black Atlantic Dialogues; Sustainability
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 16:43
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 16:43


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