Black Culture Films Black Culture Documentaries Quite Essay

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Black Culture Films

Black Culture Documentaries

Quite often and particularly in the United States, it is commonplace to understand the black cultural experience largely through the lenses of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. And to be certain, these are aspects of the experience that have left indelible imprints on black identity. However, as the collection of documentaries assessed here denotes, the black cultural experience is diverse and nuanced in a way that often goes unnoted in the discourse over struggle and oppression. This is particularly on display in the pair of documentary installments by Basil Davidson, which are concerned with the cultural conditions both historical and present in different parts of Africa.

Indeed, what is so compelling about works such as Caravans of Gold is that such films alter the discussion on the black cultural experience by reflecting on the variant of positive contributions made to the evolution of global culture by the African continent. With a particular focus on West Africa, the documentary helps to redress western impressions of Africa as a land strictly defined by violence, poverty, disease, war and exploitation. Instead, the Davidson documentary reports on the history of Ghana and surrounding nations in the proliferation of not just the global gold trade but also the global evolution of iron and iron industries. Here, the African continent is seen as an early progenitor of a worldwide industrial revolution. Moreover, Davidson points to some of the great universities such as Sankore, which attract scholars from the world over to West African educational communities.

Many of the impressions offered in this documentary are echoed in Davidsons Kings and Cities, which explore West African with an emphasis on the relative economic prosperity enjoyed here. Especially as this stands in contrast to more commonly proliferated impressions of the African experience, this particular installment of the Davidson series helps to…

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