The Transcription Centre and the Coproduction of African Literary Culture in the 1960s

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Sub-Saharan African literary producers working in the 1960s faced a bipolar landscape characterized by the intersecting pressures of the Cold War and decolonization against which they built networks, cultivated audiences, and created new outlets for their work in ways not always immediately reducible to ideological determinants. This chapter revisits one space in which creative work was being produced at the time: the London-based Transcription Feature Service, or Transcription Centre (1962–77). Established in early 1962, the Centre recorded English-language radio programs on topics related to African literature, art, and culture for sale, distribution, and broadcast in newly independent African countries, and elsewhere in the world. Founded and directed by Dennis Duerden, a former BBC employee, and produced by the South African, and London-based writer, critic, and journalist Lewis Nkosi, the Transcription Centre created one-off features and series, and regular shows like the weekly magazine program Africa Abroad (1962–6), which combined interviews with African or West Indian artists or writers passing through London with a lively mix of review pieces and performances. Within a few short years the Centre had produced over five hundred radio programs, recordings of which found their way beyond English-speaking African stations to the Caribbean and North America, with radio networks extending to India, France, Canada, and Australia. One of the lesser-known cultural hubs of the period, the Transcription Centre adds several important strands to discussions of Cold War literary culture. It illustrates the issues of mobility, diaspora …
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook to Cold War Literary Cultures
EditorsGreg Barnhisel
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781350191723, 9781350191730
ISBN (Print)9781350191716
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameBloomsbury Handbooks
PublisherBloomsbury Academic


  • African literature
  • CIA
  • BBC
  • Radio
  • 1960s
  • Alex La Guma
  • Transcription Centre
  • Dennis Duerden


Dive into the research topics of 'The Transcription Centre and the Coproduction of African Literary Culture in the 1960s'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this