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Powerful Frequencies
Radio, State Power, and the Cold War in Angola, 1931–2002

By Marissa J. Moorman

“Moorman’s incisive study argues that the medium of radio is central to the history of human actors, political movements, wars, as well as the struggle for and the exercise of power in southern Africa. Yet radio has not heretofore been an object of systematic analysis in connection to Angola. Following her groundbreaking Intonations, Moorman once again proves herself to be one of the leading scholars on this key southern African nation.”

Fernando Arenas, author of Lusophone Africa: Beyond Independence

Powerful Frequencies details the central role that radio technology and broadcasting played in the formation of colonial Portuguese Southern Africa and the postcolonial nation-state, Angola. In Intonations, Marissa J. Moorman examined the crucial relationship between music and Angolan independence during the 1960s and 70s. Now, Moorman turns to the history of Angolan radio as an instrument for Portuguese settlers, the colonial state, African nationalists, and the postcolonial state. They all used radio to project power, while the latter employed it to challenge empire.

From the 1930s introduction of radio by settlers, to the clandestine broadcasts of guerilla groups; to radio’s use in the Portuguese counter-insurgency strategy during the Cold War era and in developing the independent state’s national and regional voice, Powerful Frequencies narrates a history of canny listeners, committed professionals, and dissenting political movements. All of these employed radio’s peculiarities—invisibility, ephemerality, and its material effects—to transgress social, political, “physical,” and intellectual borders. Powerful Frequencies follows radio’s traces in film, literature, and music to illustrate how the technology’s sonic power—even when it made some listeners anxious and frightened—created and transformed the late colonial and independent Angolan soundscape.

Marissa J. Moorman is associate professor of African history and cinema and media studies at Indiana University. She is the author of Intonations: a Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, 1945 to Recent Times. She is on the editorial board of Africa Is a Country, where she regularly writes about politics and culture.   More info →

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Paperback available June 18, 2019.
Hardcover available June 18, 2019.
Cover of Powerful Frequencies

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Paperback
978-0-8214-2370-7
Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: June 2019
12 illus. · 240 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Hardcover
978-0-8214-2369-1
Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: June 2019
12 illus. · 240 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Electronic
978-0-8214-4676-8
Release date: June 2019
12 illus. · 240 pages
Rights:  World

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