Eye On Africa

Reginold Royston, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of New Media and Africana Studies at the University
of Wisconsin, Madison. His work examines technoculture in Ghana and the role of diasporas in the
African mediascape, including viral dance videos, podcasting, tech entrepreneurship, and development
projects. He teaches courses on oral culture and digital media, the Internet in Africa, and race, class and
gender online. He teaches in the Department of African Cultural Studies, and at The Information School.
With Faisal Abdu’allah, he co-curates the Black Arts + Data Futures collaborative. He is currently working
on a manuscript about the impact of digital media on Ghanaian national identity.

In this paper, I examine the techniques of dance music performances that attempt to repair the
rupture of diaspora and race, through rhizomatic expression rather than through ideologically driven
politics. Building on post-humanist analysis in digital media studies, I attempt to demonstrate how
the embodied knowledge of African and African diasporic online culture (YouTube/Instagram videos),
produce technology (both tacit knowledge and material techniques) that also hold in tension, the social
imaginaries of Africa and postcolonial national identity. In particular, my analysis focuses on the tactics
of digital embodiment in Chicago “ghetto house,” and Ghanaian Azonto (a genre of “Afrobeats” dance
music). These subgenres exemplify the hybridity of black life, both on the continent and in the diaspora.
This paper attempts to offer new perspectives on what the anthropologist of dance, Yvonne Daniels
describes as embodied knowledge, by describing that knowledge as a material, and thus technological
practice. These implications attempt to problematize the conditions of modernity and provincialize
Western concepts of technology, while also challenging the enduring sense of Africa as outside the
hybrid cultural, political, and technological formations of our contemporary world.