Khokholkova N. E. “Memory as medicine”: performative commemorations in the context of the American version of afrocentrism

Nasezhda E. Khokholkova
Institute for African Studies; 
Russian State University for Humanities
Moscow, Russia


  Download  |  Go to Issue #4. 2019


УДК 316.722 
DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2019-4(6)-213-219


ABSTRACT. In the era of postcolonialism and postmodernism, the issues of historical memory have assumed particular relevance. In the last third of the twentieth century, under the requirements of rapidly changing societies, new patterns of memorial culture began to be constructed. One of them has emerged as a part of the discourse of Afrocentrism. Ideological movement based on the concept of centrality of Africa and all the people of African descent in the world history, was converted in the early 1980s into a comprehensive socio-cultural theory due to the efforts by Molefi Kete Asante. This theory was urged to decolonize the space of historical memory and change African Americans’ consciousness. The Afrocentrists developed several commemorative practices in order to eliminate the post-traumatic slave syndrome and inferiority complex, which are familiar to many African Americans. The article deals with performative commemorations—ceremonies, rituals, and other activities intended for creating, preserving, transmitting, and representing both triumphal and traumatic memories. The author focuses on the Kwanzaa festival and the Maafa commemoration. The article explores the reasons for designing these commemorative events in the USA and analyzes their essence, symbolism, and significance.


KEYWORDS: commemoration, performance, Afrocentrism, Kwanzaa, Maafa



  • Ассман А. Длинная тень прошлого: мемориальная культура и историческая политика. М., 2014.
  • Ассман А. Новое недовольство мемориальной культурой. М., 2016.
  • Бахтин М. М. Творчество Франсуа Рабле и народная культура Средневековья и Ренессанса. 2-е изд. М., 1990.
  • Бондаренко Д. М. Оттенки черного. Культурно-антропологические аспекты взаимовосприятия и взаимоотношений африкано-американцев и мигрантов из стран субсахарской Африки в США. М., 2016.
  • Гавристова Т. М. «Вернись и возьми» («африканское зарубежье» в поисках идентичности) // Ярославский хронограф: доклады научной конф., посвящ. 20-летию исторического факультета ЯрГУ. Ярославль, 2008. С. 51–57.
  • Нитобург Э. Л. Афроамериканцы США. XX век: этноисторический очерк. М., 2009.
  • Ani M. To Be Afrikan. February 24, 1999. URL: (дата обращения: 08.06.2019).
  • Hobsbawm E. Introduction: Inventing Traditions // The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge, 1983. Р. 1-14.
  • Kymlicka W. Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. New York, 1995.
  • Mazama A. The Afrocentric Paradigm. Contours and Definitions // Journal of Black Studies. 2001. Vol. 31 (4). P. 387–405.
  • Rowe T. D., Woodson K. M. How to heal African-Americans’ traumatic history. June 19, 2018. URL: (дата обращения: 25.07. 2019).