Theses Doctoral

Mandé Instruments at the Met: Analyzing Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Context of an African Musical Instrument Collection in the Museum

SullyCole, Althea

This dissertation explores the intangible cultural heritage of the collection of musical instruments from the Mandé region of West Africa (present-day Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and the Gambia) currently held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It uses the geographical shadow of the Mandé empire—once the locus of economic power globally—to circumscribe a collection of twenty-three instruments at the museum that share historical and socio-cultural characteristics, although the ruptures between them are also illustrated through individual analysis of each. It then considers their significance over time at the museum, in current debates concerning African cultural heritage and in terms of community access. The culmination of eleven years of musical study and practice in and out of Senegal, the U.K. and the U.S., this dissertation argues for a practice-oriented rather than object-oriented analysis of cultural heritage.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Fox, Aaron
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 9, 2022