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Glorious Occupations

Next in her series of library indepth posts, cataloguer and book reviewer Jo looks at my favourite section – Arts, Media and Sport

Filled with the brilliant colours and sounds of visual art and music, the swish of fashion and dance, the flash of camera and moving image, the million tongues of literature and the rising cheer of the sports arena, the Arts, Sport and the Media section divides into six subsections.

Books form the art media and sport section on the shelf
© University of Manchester

Popular Culture including General Media

Although some publications here share subject matter with elements of the Culture section, the Arts, Sport and the Media section is more specifically about cultural products than theory. Jose David Saldivar’s Border Matters: ReMapping American Cultural Studies, for example, looks at culture in the US/Mexico borderlands. However, Saldivar’s book is included here because it is a critical study of Chicano/a artistic output, including novels, poems, music, paintings and performance art, as well as ethnography.

Kobena Mercer’s Welcome to the Jungle, from the New Positions in Black Cultural Studies series, presents essays on hairstyle, dress, music, film, photography and visual art. For example, one of Mercer’s chapters, on Reading Racial Fetishism, critiques the work of the New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, whose erotic images of Black men have often been considered highly controversial and exploitative.

There are some fascinating new books here such as Tweets and the Streets, Paolo Gerbaudo’s scholarly study of the way Twitter and other social platforms recently helped fuel political activism, constructing what Gerbaudo calls a ‘choreography of assembly’. These networks helped spark revolution in the 2011 Egyptian uprising, the Spanish indignados, and #OccupyWallStreet in the US, contradicting the notion that social media only occupy cyberspace and have no physical geography.


Voices and perspectives vie for attention in this vibrant subsection. While Lost and Found in Translation: Contemporary Ethnic American Writing and the Politics of Language Diversity by Martha J. Cutter analyses the issue of translation in 20 English-language novels, Sukhdev Sandhu attempts to reveal the way Black and Asian writers have constructed, via the migrant experience, a city of the mind in London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City, a book both applauded and vilified by other writers and critics when it was published in 2003.

Contemporary Black Men’s Fiction and Drama by Keith Clark looks at how African-American novelists and playwrights have contested and expanded upon conventions in Black American writing, putting forward new ways of being. By contrast, you’ll find here collections such as South Asian Folklore; Third World Voices for Children (30 stories, legends, poems and songs from Africa, the West Indies, North America and the South Pacific); Diane Tong’s Gypsy Folk Tales and Sinead de Valera’s More Irish Fairy Tales.

There are also classics such as the Black American Womanist writer Alice Walker’s The Temple of My Familiar, a story of people whose history is ancient and whose future is yet to come; or Children’s Laureate 2013-2015, Malorie Blackman’s young adult novel, Noughts and Crosses, the first in a now-renowned series that confronts the legacy of slavery and its ongoing effect on Western thought and social formation.

Journalism, News and Advertising

From current affairs programming across the media to the race politics of the workplaces that the programming is made in – it’s all here. Take The Wars Against Saddam: Taking the Hard Road to Baghdad, where John Simpson, with over 20 years experience of reporting from Iraq, addresses the reality of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programme, the threat from Iraq post-9/11, and the reasons why the US, with Tony Blair’s support, went to war in Iraq in 2003.

Switch perspective and you can find Beulah Ainley interviewing 100 Black journalists working in newspapers, television and radio in order to study the under-representation of African, Caribbean and Chinese journalists in the White media in her 1998 book, Black Journalists, White Media.

Sport and Leisure

Here, legends in the making like John Barnes and Lewis Hamilton pen their autobiographies; there are overviews such as Mihir Bose’s A History of Indian Cricket. Wiggins and Miller’s The Unlevel Playing Field and Jon Garland’s Racism and Anti-Racism in Football expose the way that sport, as in other areas of social interaction, can often be accused of discrimination, as well as commended for its defence of equality. Elsewhere in the library (in the Education section) are a wealth of publications relating to the campaign Kick Racism Out Of Football.


Typical of this section is a book like Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times by Robin D. G. Kelly. A great read, this four-part volume vividly evokes the network of calls and responses across continents that connected modern jazz with Africa during the 1950s and 1960s, a period of civil rights struggle in America and of countries battling for independence across Africa. The book is basically a collective biography but focuses on pianist Randy Weston, drummer Guy Warren (Kofi Ghanaba), bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi and South African composer and vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin.

Drama, Film, Television, Radio and Dance

A diverse selection, finally, of titles, ranging from Colonial India and the Making of Empire Cinema: Image, Theology and Identity to African-American Concert Dance: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond.

There’s so much to discover in this lively section, some beautiful images, some inspirational ideas and some wonderful tunes.


By aiucentre

An open access library specialising in the study of race, ethnicity and migration. Part of the University of Manchester and based at Manchester Central Library.

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