Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Oladipupo Oyeleye — Curbing COVID-19: Perspectives on African Popular Music in the Era of Global Health Crisis

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Watch on Watson's YouTube channel.

Watch on YouTube

This talk aims to offer perspectives on the role of African Popular Music in creating awareness to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Music remains a vital tool for translating the universal human condition, unlike any other art form. It has served as a coping mechanism for human suffering and a tool for dealing with a broad range of concerns, from trauma to pleasure to the celebration of life. There is always that soundtrack that captures life in troubled times, and this global health crisis is not an exception. Oyeleye's train of thought in the presentation rests on studying culture producers as public intellectuals, particularly musicians. He will examine the celebrity culture that elevates musicians’ inputs on sensitizing the public about the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. Oyeleye's claim that their contribution is more effective than public service announcements from government-run media because the artistes already command a considerable following, and their celebrity status is significant leverage. Relying on medical ethnomusicologists’ studies on epidemics and drawing from selected music texts, Oyeleye argue that the musicians’ unique, often apolitical space and broader appeal to the public sensibility are crucial in how their sounds travel in the creative dissemination of vital medical information.

Africa Initiative

Oladipupo Oyeleye is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds master’s degrees in English and Afro-American Studies from the University of Ibadan and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Oladipupo’s research interests are in Contemporary Anglophone Literature, Post-2000 African popular music, Visual Culture, and Black Digital Rhetoric. His dissertation focuses on Afropolitanism as a theory of reading Global Africa. He studies twenty-first-century African fiction and popular music on the global exchange of culture and capital. Oladipupo has contributed to blogs, academic journals, and book chapters in edited volumes.

Moderator:  Daniel Smith, Charles C. Tillinghast, Jr. ’32 Professor of International Studies, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Africa Initiative