Damon Chandru Sajnani
Position title: Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2018-2019)
African Cultural Studies, UW-Madison
The African HipHop Movement: Youth Culture and Democracy in Senegal
The book demonstrates how Senegalese artist-activists are mobilizing HipHop to impact formal politics on an unprecedented scale. My core argument is that Senegalese rappers organically deploy an anticolonial notion of democracy that challenges orthodox democratic theory’s framing of possibilities. Through an emphasis on participatory democracy and global justice, they implicitly challenge the compatibility of democracy with economic liberalism and the contemporary world order. I construct an interdisciplinary account of how Senegalese artist-activists mobilize HipHop’s aesthetic power and association with the Black freedom struggle to contest both narrow nationalist and fatalistic globalization narratives by forging a HipHop Africanity that is simultaneously diasporic and indigenous, racially conscious and anti-essentialist.
Artist, activist, and academic Damon Sajnani is a HipHop polymath. He is Harvard’s inaugural Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow, and assistant professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has authored numerous scholarly chapters and articles on global HipHop and social justice and released several critically acclaimed albums under the moniker, “Professor D.” His primary research interests include Africana cultural studies and critical theory, postcolonialism and decolonization, social stratification and political philosophy, and critical HipHop studies. He is currently preparing his tenure manuscript, The African HipHop Movement: Youth Culture and Democracy in Senegal.