Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures

Twins in African and Diaspora Cultures

Double Trouble, Twice Blessed
Edited by Edited by Philip M. Peek
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/18/2011
Format: Paperback 36 b&w illus., 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-22307-4
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


In Africa, where the birthrate of twins is among the highest in the world, twins can be seen as a burden to their families and a threat to the social order, or they can be seen as a gift from God and beings with unique abilities who bring about social harmony. Philip M. Peek and the contributors to this illuminating, multidisciplinary volume explore this rich cultural heritage by examining topics such as twins in artistic representation, twins and divination, and twins in performance, cosmology, religion, and popular culture.

Author Bio

Philip M. Peek is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at Drew University. He is editor of African Divination Systems (IUP, 1991).


“This illuminating exploration of a either a burden or a gift examinates topics such as twins in artistic representation, twins and divination, and twins in performance, cosmology, religion, and popular culture.”

“Well-researched, well-presented, and theoretically informed. This volume displays a good range of themes as well as extensive geographical coverage.”
 — Ferdinand de Jong, University of East Anglia

“The book's sixteen excellent essays are not so much about the lives of actual human twins, a subject that is only briefly discussed in a few chapters, but rather about African ideas concerning twins as they relate to broader conceptions of the cosmos, the social order, and humans’ place within it.”
 — African Arts

“Philip Peek is to be congratulated on marshalling such a diverse range of papers on the topic of twins in ritual practice, belief and the arts. . . . He succeeds entirely in including sufficiently diverse approaches to the topic to annoy and satisfy everyone in equal measure. The broad range of views and wide ethnographic coverage of twins in sub-Saharan and diaspora communities encompassed here makes this an indispensable work for researchers, lecturers and students alike. ”
 — Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford

“[T]his book will prove useful to general readers and academics alike, especially those who are interested in religion, cosmology, cultural transfers, sociology, history, and anthropology.”
 — African Studies Quarterly

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Beginning to Rethink Twins / Philip M. Peek
Part 1. Roots
2. Twins and Double Beings among the Bamana and Maninka of Mali / Pascal James Imperato and Gavin H. Imperato
3. Twins and Intertwinement: Reflections on Ambiguity and Ambivalence in Northwestern Namibia / Steven Van Wolputte
Part 2. Doubles and Dualities
4. Sustaining the Oneness in their Twoness: Poetics of Twin Figures (Ère Ìbejì) among the Yoruba / Babatunde Lawal
5. "Son Dos los Jimagüas" ("The Twins Are Two"): Worship of the Sacred Twins in Lucumí Religious Culture / Ysamur Flores-Pena
6. Twins, Couples, and Doubles and the Negotiation of Spirit-Human Identities among the Win / Susan Cooksey
7. Double Portraits: Images of Twinness in West African Studio Photography / C. Angelo Micheli
Part 3. The Centrality of Liminality
8. Forever Liminal: Twins among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria / Walter E. A. Van Beek
9. Snake, Bush, and Metaphor: Twinship among Ubangians / Jan-Lodewijk Grootaers
10. Fiction and Forbidden Sexual Fantasy in the Culture of Temne Twins / Frederick John Lamp
11. Embodied Dilemma: Tabwa Twinship in Thought and Performance / Allen F. Roberts
12. Children of the Moon: Twins in Luba Art and Ontology / Mary Nooter Roberts
Part 4. Transformations
13. Two Equals Three: Twins and the Trickster in Haitian Vodou / Marilyn Houlberg
14. Divine Children: The Ibejis and the Erês in Brazilian Candomblé / Stefania Capone
15. The Ambiguous Ordinariness of Yoruba Twins / Elisha P. Renne
16. Twins, Albinos, and Vanishing Prisoners: A Mozambican Theory of Political Power / Paulo Granjo
List of Contributors

Related Titles