Emily CallaciApr 7, 2021
Street Archives and City Life
Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania
Duke University Press 2017
Emily Callaci's book Street Archives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania (Duke University Press, 2017) tells the histories of the young migrants who shaped the city of Dar es Salaam between 1967 and 1985. During this period, the ruling party, TANU, pursued the policy of Ujamaa or African socialism which sought the future of African independence in traditional villages and rural areas rather than cities. Despite the increasingly anti-urban policies of the Tanzanian state, and the stringent economic and social conditions that prevailed in Dar es Salaam, young migrants continued to move to the city.
Armed with the ability to read and write acquired through the extensive literacy campaigns organized by the Tanzanian state, young migrants reflected upon and negotiated the many challenges that awaited them in the new urban environment. They created new communities and new ways of belonging by producing a rich body of cultural artifacts that constituted an unofficial archive where urban dwellers left testimony of their circumstances and experiences. Callaci explores the music performed at dance halls, advise literature for young girls, pulp fiction novellas and the very lexicon that urban dwellers used to both describe and re-shape a new urban landscape, all forged under the pressures of economic decline and African socialism but focused on the promises of prosperity and liberation.
Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia is an associate professor of history at Montclair State University.