Osogbo and the Art of Heritage

Osogbo and the Art of Heritage

Monuments, Deities, and Money
Peter Probst
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/15/2011
Format: Paperback 13 color illus., 27 b&w illus., 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-22295-4
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Winner, 2012 Nigerian Studies Association Book Award

Why has the home of a Yoruba river goddess become a UNESCO World Heritage site and a global attraction? Every year, tens of thousands of people from around the world visit the sacred grove of Osun, Osogbo’s guardian deity, to attend her festival. Peter Probst takes readers on a riveting journey to Osogbo. He explores the history of the Osogbo School, which helped introduce one style of African modern art to the West, and investigates its intimate connection with Osun, the role of art and religion in the changing world of Osogbo, and its prominence in the global arena.

Author Bio

Peter Probst is Professor of Art and Art History at Tufts University.


“In this riveting journey to Osogbo, the author explores the history of the Osogbo School, investigating its intimate connection with Osun, the role of art and religion in the changing world of Osogbo, and its prominence in the global arena.”

“Illustrates global issues with a very detailed and perceptive analysis.”
 — Henry John Drewal, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“A layered, rich exploration of the many and varied changes that have taken place in this significant Nigerian town.”
 — Robin Poynor, University of Florida

“The Osogbo Osun Grove was designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2005, which, as the author explains, has had consequences for the global extension of the postcolonial Yoruba religion. . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“. . . Probst goes beyond the textual surfaces of art history in Osogbo school art to give us the background noise and multiplex changing social and political contours that make for a meaningful understanding of the Osogbo experiment and its implications for the modern world of heritage designations and sacred sites in Yoruba and African art. Absorbing reading, it's as good as investigative reporting gets, and loaded with theoretical insights.July, 2011”
 — H-AfrArts

“[T]his monograph offers a refreshing interdisciplinary approach which will substantially reward the reader. ”
 — Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

“I heartily recommend this engrossing read for all scholars interested in contemporary issues of art and religion but especially for those interested in postcolonial studies, globalization, media theory, and of course, heritage.”
 — Religious Studies Review

“Osogbo and the Art of Heritage, informed by a wide-ranging and worldly intellect, is a boundary-breaking work. The research is interdisciplinary in scope, articulating art history with ethnography, performance and media theory, religion, and African studies. ”
 — African History

“This book achieves a real sense of Oshogbo as a place. . . . [W]hat Probst has actually produced in this book is an ethnography that allows Oshogbo and its people to emerge as a very real presence in the formation of its own cultural narrative. ”
 — Leeds African Studies Bulletin

“All in all, [this] book is a very fine account of African modernity in its various expressions. As such, it deserves a wide readership among students of art, religion, heritage, and the anthropology of Africa and beyond.”
 — Journal of Religion in Africa

“Not quite a history of Osogbo art . . . this book focuses on the role of a sacred grove as medium in a post-colonial Nigerian polity. Informed by contemporary critical theory, it makes an invaluable contribution to the interpretation of heritage and its visualization through various media. Illustrated with beautiful photographs, the book presents a wide range of arguments about the visualization of heritage and the visibility of the sacred . . . [T]his book provides a most rewarding read.August 2013”
 — Africa

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Modernity of Heritage
1 – Heritage as Source: Histories and Images of Osun Osogbo
2 – Heritage as Novelty: Revitalizing Yoruba Art in the Spirit of Modernism
3 – Heritage as Project: Hybridity and the Reauthentication of the Osun Grove
4 – Heritage as Style: Travel, Interaction, and the Branding of Osogbo Art
5 – Heritage as Spectacle: Image and Attention in the Osun Osogbo Festival
6 – Heritage as Remembrance: History, Photography and Styles of Imagination
7 – Heritage as Control: From Art and Religion to Media and Mediation
Coda: A Final Note on Heritage as Presence

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