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The Modernity Bluff Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Cote D'Ivoire by Sasha Newell

The Modernity Bluff Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Cote D'Ivoire

RRP £78.00


The Modernity Bluff Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Cote D'Ivoire by Sasha Newell

In Cote d'Ivoire, appearing modern is so important for success that many young men deplete their already meager resources to project an illusion of wealth in a fantastic display of Western imitation, spending far more than they can afford on brand name clothing, accessories, technology, and a robust nightlife. Such imitation, however, is not primarily meant to deceive - rather, as Sasha Newell argues in The Modernity Bluff , it is an explicit performance so valued in Cote d'Ivoire it has become a matter of national pride. Called bluffeurs, these young urban men operate in a system of cultural economy where reputation is essential for financial success. That reputation is measured by familiarity with and access to the fashionable and expensive, which leads to a paradoxical state of affairs in which the wasting of wealth is essential to its accumulation. Using the consumption of Western goods to express their cultural mastery over Western taste, Newell argues, bluffeurs engage a global hierarchy that is profoundly modern, one that values performance over authenticity - highlighting the counterfeit nature of modernity itself.


The Modernity Bluff takes its place comfortably with the best writing on African youth, cities, and popular culture - Cole, De Boeck, Mbembe, Nyamanjoh, Simone, Weiss, White - and gives an utterly original angle for understanding the cultural underpinnings of the current conflict in Cote d'Ivoire. Sasha Newell knows both the contemporary and classic Africanist literatures. He also brings to bear a considerable amount of specialist theory to explain the ways the performance of 'bluff,
seemingly a king of consumerist simulacrum, can actually create something out of nothing. (Mike McGovern

, Yale University)

About the Author

Sasha Newell teaches at the College of the Holy Cross.

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Book Info

Publication date

28th June 2012


Sasha Newell

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University of Chicago Press an imprint of The University of Chicago Press


296 pages


Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography



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