Introduction to Alioune Diop’s “Art and Peace” (1966)
In 1966, the multi-media celebration of African and diasporic art known as the Premier Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres attracted an international audience to the recently independent nation of Senegal. As performances and exhibitions took place throughout Dakar, politicians, artists, and intellectuals considered what roles art and culture could play in healing a world torn by colonialism, the World Wars, and increasing tensions between the Eastern and Western blocs. In “Art and Peace,” Alioune Diop, the president of the Festival’s organizing committee, enlists the arts as vital tools in the ambitious project of world peace. For contemporary readers, his words foreshadow present-day debates concerning the effects of globalization on the arts and reveal understudied links uniting the mid-century cosmopolitanist visions of negritude, Catholicism, and UNESCO.
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