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Oduduwa’s Chain

Locations of Culture in the Yoruba-Atlantic

Oduduwa’s Chain

Locations of Culture in the Yoruba-Atlantic

Yoruba culture has been a part of the Americas for centuries, brought from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade and maintained in various forms ever since. In Oduduwa’s Chain, Andrew Apter explores a wide range of fascinating historical and ethnographic examples and offers a provocative rethinking of African heritage in Black Atlantic Studies.
Focusing on Yoruba history and culture in Nigeria, Apter applies a generative model of cultural revision that allows him to identify formative Yoruba influences without resorting to the idea that culture and tradition are fixed. For example, Apter shows how the association of African gods with Catholic saints can be seen as a strategy of empowerment, explores historical locations of Yoruba gender ideologies and their variations in the Atlantic world, and much more. He concludes with a rousing call for a return to Africa in studies of the Black Atlantic, resurrecting a critical notion of culture that allows us to transcend Western inventions of African while taking them into account.

224 pages | 22 halftones, 1 map | 6 x 9 | © 2017

African Studies

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology


Oduduwa’s Chain demonstrates how field research done properly and perceptively can contribute meaningfully to the epistemology of a culture as complex and sophisticated as that of the Yoruba. Even more importantly, it argues for a fresh perspective for advancing the discussion of the Yoruba-Atlantic.”

Rowland Abiodun, Amherst College

“This excellent book occupies a commendable place in the vibrant and energetic debates on Africans and the making of the Afro-Atlantic world, using the Yoruba to supply cogent ideas on the agency of culture and ethnogenesis within the paradigm of Afrocentric knowledge. Apter successfully connects a wide range of data with a diverse corpus of knowledge to question many assumptions about Africa and the Atlantic world, making it impossible to ignore this erudite work.”

Toyin Falola, University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents


ONE / Herskovits’s Heritage
TWO / Creolization and Connaissance
THREE / Notes from Ekitiland
FOUR / The Blood of Mothers
FIVE / Ethnogenesis from Within

Afterword: Beyond the Mirror of Narcissus

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