African Folklore: An Encyclopedia
More than 300 entries in African Folklore recognize "significant historical and cultural experiences" shared among the wide variety of African cultures, including the diaspora. This encyclopedia offers substantive (averaging about three pages) signed articles, each with references. Sample topics include Dreams, Films on African folklore, Metallurgy and folklore, and articles on oral communication types like jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, call-and-response, songs, theater, and more. There are also brief surveys of African countries. Entries reflect the editors' broad concept of folklore as artistic communication inclusive of a variety of expressive behaviors and communicating media and of folklore's existing "primarily to provide group identity and homogeneity." An extensive index and cross-references are helpful navigation aids in addition to the list of entries that begins the encyclopedia. Appendixes--"African Studies Centers and Libraries in the USA and Africa," a bibliography of the Field and Broadcast Sound Recording Collections at the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music, a filmography, and a partial listing of dissertations and theses on African folklore at four U.S. universities--also add value. The list of contributors includes academic or other institutional affiliation for most of the 161 authors, who come from a variety of subject areas and countries.
The editors also have the backgrounds necessary for this publication. Peek has authored various ethnographic studies of African cultures, including divination, arts, and ceremonies, and has also compiled several bibliographies of African and African American recordings of music and oral data. Yankah has written about political life, language, and folklore in Ghana. Their current project matches Routledge's other folklore encyclopedias in format and depth: South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia [RBB Jl 03], Jan Harold Brunvand's American Folklore: An Encyclopedia (1996), and the forthcoming Jewish Folklore and the Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. African Folklore fits nicely in the gap between encyclopedias of Africa and encyclopedias of folklore, narrowing and sharpening the focus of each. There is no resource quite like this one. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries. RBB
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