Andrew Ivaska, Cultural States: Youth, Gender, and Modern Style in 1960's Dar es Salaam.

Review by Nana K.O. Gyesie
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Cultural States: Youth, Gender, and Modern Style in 1960's Dar es Salaam. Andrew Ivaska. Duke University Press, 2011. Pp. ix + 276. ISBN 978-0-8223-4770-5-; $23.95 (pbk)

[1] The cover of Cultured States is a black and white picture of three young musicians adorned in light colored trousers and shirts, dark-colored blazers and black shoes on a black background accented by red and green colors. In ascending order of the size of the image, the first musician has in hand a guitar, the second a saxophone and the third with an instrument that is not clearly seen in the picture. The image speaks of fun and celebrations of the 1960's and 70's in what has become known as colors representative of Africa; red, black and green. The subtitle, Youth, Gender and Modern style in Dar es Salaam evokes a content of a new era full of rebelliousness of status quo; all of which, are indicators of an exciting read. On the first page, the reader sees another image of young men with serious gazes carrying posters that read "Ban the Mini, "Ban Wigs and "Stop the half nakedness in offices. Andrew Ivaska uses many images of original cartoons and pictures of various cultural phenomenon discussed in the booming capital of the new Republic, Tanzania. The images display the characters and the conversation in Kiswahili and the description of the image and caption translated in English. For those unfamiliar with the history of Tanzania and its cultural politics of the 1960's, Ivaska uses images to visually incite the curiosity of readers beyond those interested in a niche of African history.

[2] Ivaska presents details of public and social debates that take place in a post colonial country with its newly formed government headed by Julius Nyerere, who was known as a staunch advocate of a one-party government that was formerly known as Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). Juxtaposing the myth that comes with advocates of one party government's as dictators, the author presents a culture alive in democratic processes of social debates, presenting the intersections of post-colonialism, cultural politics, gender relations, student movements and family systems. He brings to his readers a historic text that goes beyond presenting dates and timelines of occurrences in his first book although he has published versions in various chapters in other publications.

[3] The first public issues presented is the concept of a national identity campaign with which the newly elected president is advocating a return to traditional culture including the formation of official dance troupes, oral histories, school curricula, village museums and making Kiswahili the official language. The campaign also focused on the type and style of clothing, music, and the creation of ujamaa villages in which members of the country will be responsible for farming and minimizing the imports of food to the country. The advocating of traditional culture prompted resistance to popular culture and dress of the times. Members and supporters of TANU, particularly its youth movement, pushed for a ban of miniskirts, soul music, wigs, beauty contests and other imported western cultures. Although the campaign was restrictive in its advocating for a return to the traditional culture, it made available discourse in the public sphere.

[4] In his chapter titled "The Age of Minis: Secretaries, City girls and Masculinity downtown," we get a harsh account of women being dragged from buses, chased out of bars and harassed constantly in the country's first campaign against what it regarded as indecent dress. The campaign targeted women who wore tight fitting clothing and miniskirts. Many residents from the rural areas moved to the cities increasing the population of women to outnumber men. Older men held in elite positions in the newly formed government, some women held positions as secretaries, social workers, factory workers, nurses, professionals, managerial and as entrepreneurs leaving limited educational and employment opportunities for young males with the influx of rural flight. This unevenness in age and gender led to young males in the capital feeling isolated and discriminated against. Ivaska explains that this dynamic led to young men viewing their female counterparts "not simply as disconnected others who happened to be doing well, but as engaging social climbing through their relationships with older, wealthier sugar daddies and shunning relationships with young men who were unable to compete in material items (92). This kind of thinking helped to propagate the campaign and attacks on women

[5] Ivaska gives an account of the youth's experiences in the developing country with international inlfuences. In the chapter "Of Students, 'Nizers and Comrades; youth internationalism and the University College," the author introduces the reader to the government's commitment to education. Established on the eve of the country's independence, the university sponsored all of its students using public funding. The structure of the President Nyerere University plan mirrored WEB Dubois' concept of the talented tenth, in that he made available maximum resources available to a small percentage of the population hoping that upon completion of their education, they would return to rural areas to give back their time and help support the Ujamaa villages. The university students were resistant to a national service plan in which they had to commit two years post graduation in a rural nation building while being paid 40% less than those who held the job professionally. The push back from students and the public outcry of students' unwillingness to give back to the community eventually led to the expulsion of the student body. Ivaska explains that the book defies assumptions that "the state's failure to capture its citizens renders its rhetoric relatively unimportant for understanding the lives of everyday people; on the other, its suggests that the kind of prominence official rhetoric achieved on the urban landscape was often a testament less to the power of the state than to its limits" (211).

[6] Ivaska argues that this book is relevant because it shows of critical moments in the public debate that marked Dar es Salaam's long sixties opens a window of the decades social struggles and ideologies, often stretching beyond the nation were negotiated. Such a focus also contributes to a new understanding on Africa, urban cultural politics, national political culture, social struggles and gender, generation, marriage, family systems and wealth. The dialogue and public debate of the various social issues of the time demonstrated that although Julius Nyerere was known as a staunch advocate of a one- party government created a democratic culture, which allowed for the freedom of exchange of ideas giving voice to a demographical variety of the citizenry. He further explains that the cultural debates of Dar es Salaams sixties moment "helps bring into view a transnational frame for postcolonial African histories. Crisscrossed by images, icons, ideas and times of style originating in multiple elsewheres, Dar es Salaam's urban landscape provided much material with which invocations and identifications of transnational scope, alongside the national and subnational, could be fashioned" (213).

[7] Ivaska argues that the book adds to the body of scholarship by "examining the ways in which the meanings attached to the miniskirt and other banned fashion in Dar es Salaam in the 1960's were embedded in the local sensitivities and struggles around gendered work, mobility, sex, and resources marking the city at a time (93). Happening simultaneously was the government's attempt to limit the number of people moving to the capital and promoting the development of the rural areas. "The gender struggles and urban politics that run throughout the text offer evidence of the sheer unevenness of these challenges...although there many challenges and public discourse around the urban woman's behavior the Dar es Salaam woman, proved resilient. These contests in the public sphere "were fought out in part in the terrains of transnationally circulating products like the miniskirt and the urban initiatives of the national cultural project. They are also reminders that each of these terrains was appropriated to ends that went beyond a national-transnational axis to the urban gender struggles that marked early post colonial Dar es Salaam" (123).

[8] One of the aims of this book as Ivaska explains is to track a longer history of cultural appropriations that often confounded notions of the authentic, a history that stretches back far beyond the postmodern and neoliberal moments. He further explains that "always beyond culture, these appropriations, are embedded in social struggles that have shaped not just the texture of everyday life in twentieth-century Dar es Salaam, but also in the shifting possibilities of defining what it mean to live in any city" (217).

[9] Cultured States presents to its readers the cultural politics of the 60's and 70's of life in Dar es Salaam. Those with limited knowledge of the country will find themselves fascinated by the attempt of the newly formed government taking grand steps to build a nation with limited Western influence. Those interested in post-colonial histories, student political movements, gender politics and learning how a young country politicized an African centered ideology in a public sphere will find themselves engaged in Ivaska's analysis. The book adds to the body of knowledge for academicians working in many disciplines including cultural studies, urban studies, history, women and gender studies.