"Amazigh Women’s Arts: Visual Expressions of Berber Identity" by Cynthia Becker
Amazigh people (Berbers) are indigenous to North Africa. In Berber culture, women play a central role in creating the aesthetic and symbolic forms that make Amazigh identity unique, and they achieve considerable status and respect. Motherhood is highly esteemed by the Berbers, and women incorporate symbols and colors that relate to fertility into their textiles, clothing, tattoos, and hairstyles, as expressions of female agency. In this lecture, Cynthia Becker, Associate Professor in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Boston University, considers the artistic legacy of the Berbers within North African history by examining the creative output of Amazigh women. Despite societal influences that have changed daily life in Berber communities, women continue to produce and use art inspired by ancestral forms—especially during rural weddings—demonstrating the crucial role women play in preserving Amazigh heritage.
Professor Cynthia Becker is a scholar of African arts specializing in the arts of the Imazighen (Berbers) in northwestern Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, and Niger. Her research has been supported by a Fulbright grant and several grants from the American Institute of Maghreb Studies. Professor Becker has served as a consultant for numerous museum exhibitions and published articles. Her book Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity was published by the University of Texas Press in July of 2006. Her forthcoming book, Blackness in Post-Slavery Morocco: A History of Gnawa Visual and Performing Arts considers the history of the trans-Saharan slave trade and its implications on material culture in northern Africa. It will be published in 2020. Other projects include the visual culture and history of the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans (her hometown)