Cultured States sheds new light on the connections between culture and politics in early postcolonial East Africa. Focusing on Tanzania, Andrew Ivaska explores tensions between the national culture promoted by the state and the urban culture of Dar ...
es Salaam, the nation's largest city. These tensions were evident in the debates conducted in the press, streets, and bars of Dar es Salaam in response to state campaigns banning "decadent" forms of popular culture, including miniskirts, bell-bottoms, and soul music; student protests and activism at the University College of Dar es Salaam; and official proposals for overhauling colonial-era marriage laws. Ivaska relates these to controversies to social struggles in a rapidly changing city. Migration from the countryside was booming, and despite high unemployment in Dar es Salaam, the city offered young women migrants increased opportunities for economic and social autonomy, in relation not only to the lives they had left, but also to young men's fortunes in the city. Many young men came to resent the conspicuous wealth of the city's elite, older men, who were rumoured to be "sugar daddies" to "city girls." Claims to modernity were invoked toward different ends: by those attempting to create a national culture both modern and distinctly non-Western, and by young Tanzanians who found some of the Western, and particularly African American, styles circulating through Dar es Salaam to epitomize modern style.