Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Film Studies


Dr. Paul Coates


The purpose of this thesis is to examine how music is used in cinema to create representations of Africa. It begins by tracing the early importance of musicality and performance in cinema back to other cultures of visuality and socio-political ideologies that were prevalent at the time of cinema’s birth. The result of this relationship means that cinema has functioned as both a tool for portraying Africa as the “Dark Continent” and for reshaping narratives about the nature of African identities, history, politics and cultures. Music in cinematic portrayals of Africa is, therefore, part of a system of representation in which films potentially serve as historico-cultural artefacts. By analysing the musical texts alongside the visual narratives and against the backdrop of the societies in which they are created a more nuanced articulation of the tensions and specificities of African societies can be unearthed.