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On-line version ISSN 2309-9585
Print version ISSN 0259-0190


MAGAZINER, Daniel. Designing knowledge in postcolonial Africa: A South African abroad. Kronos [online]. 2015, vol.41, n.1, pp.265-286. ISSN 2309-9585.

In 1958 the young artist Selby Mvusi left South Africa to study in the United States. Over the next decade Mvusi travelled the byways of the international art history and African Studies communities presenting papers, arguing against convention and plotting a new path for postcolonial African creativity. This article considers Mvusi's trajectory from teacher to painter to instructor and theorist of industrial design. Mvusi rejected both conventional art historical trends that condemned African modernism and the conservatism that inhered under the guise of national culture across the continent. He sought instead to reinterpret 'tradition' as an open and flexible chain of connection to the past, which extended into an unknown future; Mvusi saw industrial design as the best way forward for African creativity. The article concludes by examining his role in the founding of the University of Nairobi industrial design programme in the mid-1960s.

Keywords : Selby Mvusi; Pan-Africanism; postcolonialism; intellectual history; design; art; education.

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