Il est garçon: Marginal Abidjanais masculinity and the politics of representation

Article in a refereed journal

Jordanna Matlon, "Il est garçon: Marginal Abidjanais masculinity and the politics of representation", Poetics, vol. 39, n. 5, 2011, p. 380-406. doi:10.1016/j.poetic.2011.07.003.[Full text]

Abstract

Using barbershop signs in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, this paper explores images of idealized masculinities that reflect pervasive themes in the lives of marginal Abidjanais men. I argue that men engage in a politics of representation that stresses their likeness to icons from the African diaspora. Global, black and male—the images embody the desires and disappointments of marginal Abidjanais men. Global, the images indicate belonging to the world beyond Africa. Black, the images affirm racialized identities denigrated by colonial domination and mass media hegemony. Male, the images reflect the disproportionately gendered disempowerment that African men experience as a consequence of neoliberal restructuring. Marginal Abidjanais men’s relationship to the global economy having shifted from exploitative to excluded, the images suggest a consumption-oriented masculinity that connects them to global capitalism as consumers but not to their hoped-for families as providers.

Keywords

Africa/African Diaspora
Consumption
Masculinity
Neoliberalism
Politics of Representation
Urban Informality

IAST Discipline

Sociology
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