The Yoruba

The Yoruba

A New History
Akinwumi Ogundiran
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/03/2020
Format: Hardback 37 b&w illus., 8 color plates
ISBN: 978-0-253-05148-6
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Although the Yoruba are the most populous ethnic group on the African continent, most histories tend to fossilize them in a timeless cultural past where traditions simply repeat themselves over the centuries. In his groundbreaking work, The Yoruba: A New History, Akinwumi Ogundiran examines the development of the ideas and practices that have shaped the Yoruba identity and experience going back as far as AD 800. Weaving together the threads and traces of oral traditions, rituals, and social memory, Ogundiran examines the intersecting domains of everyday Yoruba life, including economics, politics, power, religion, arts and aesthetics, and knowledge systems. Going against the grain of many histories of the Yoruba that locate cultural change in colonial encounters, Ogundiran opts for an eclectic approach that illuminates new theories of practice and cultural transition, the philosophical premises of community, and the global and regional interactions that frame and ground local experiences.

Author Bio

Akinwumi Ogundiran is Professor of Africana Studies, Anthropology, and History, and Chair of the Africana Studies Department at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is author of Precolonial Nigeria and editor (with Paula Saunders) of Materialities of Ritual in the Black Atlantic.


"In this brilliantly conceived and successful executed project, Akinwumi Ogundiran deploys a cultural-historical approach to pose new questions on how the Yoruba as historical subject created their own epistemology, new ears of aspirational values and principle, and conceptions of honor and respectability."

 (Saheed Aderinto)

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Appendices
Glossary of Yorùbá words
I. Introduction
1. Writing a New History
II. Birth of the Yorùbá Community of Practice, ca. 300 BC–AD 1420
2. The Emergence of a House Society
3. Knowledge Capital and Referentiality
III. Atrophy and Regeneration, 1400–1650
4. Atrophy
5. Regeneration and Restoration
IV. Atlantic Entanglements, 1630-1840
6. Merchant Capital Revolution
7. Sociality of Merchant Capital
8. Perennial Inequality
9. A House Divided
V. Conclusion
10. The Past in the Present