Cultural Anthropology

PERFORMING ROYALTY IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICA

Authors


ABSTRACT

Sovereignty and governance in contemporary Africa are hotly contested issues with important—even dire—consequences for all those interested in the continent's markets, resources, people, and welfare. This article focuses not on questions of how authority is assigned or removed but on how it is shaped, worn, and performed for diverse audiences, particularly in the arena of “traditional governance.” Here, the Bafokeng “ethnic corporation” meets Africa's last absolute monarchy, the Swazi Kingdom, in a juxtaposition of styles, symbols, and strategies that illuminates the difference between an aesthetic of defiant African alterity and an Afromodern capitalist cosmopolitanism.