The University of Wisconsin Press

African Studies / Anthropology / History / Religion / Sociology

Òrìṣà Devotion as World Religion
The Globalization of Yorùbá Religious Culture
Edited by Jacob K. Olupona and Terry Rey

“Shaped by the transatlantic slave trade, Christianity, Islam, colonialism, and, now, globalization, Yorùbá religious culture remains dynamic and inspirational. This volume goes beyond the usual tendency in Diaspora studies to focus on cultural retention. It is a significant contribution.”
—Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Brooklyn College, City University of New York
As the twenty-first century begins, tens of millions of people participate in devotions to the spirits called Òrìṣà. This book explores the emergence of Òrìṣà devotion as a world religion, one of the most remarkable and compelling developments in the history of the human religious quest. Originating among the Yorùbá people of West Africa, the varied traditions that comprise Òrìṣà devotion are today found in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Australia.

The African spirit proved remarkably resilient in the face of the transatlantic slave trade, inspiring the perseverance of African religion wherever its adherents settled in the New World. Among the most significant manifestations of this spirit, Yorùbá religious culture persisted, adapted, and even flourished in the Americas, especially in Brazil and Cuba, where it thrives as Candomblé and Lukumi/Santería, respectively. After the end of slavery in the Americas, the free migrations of Latin American and African practitioners have further spread the religion to places like New York City and Miami. Thousands of African Americans have turned to the religion of their ancestors, as have many other spiritual seekers who are not themselves of African descent. 

Ifá divination in Nigeria, Candomblé funerary chants in Brazil, the role of music in Yorùbá revivalism in the United States, gender and representational authority in Yorùbá religious culture-these are among the many subjects discussed here by experts from around the world. Approaching Òrìṣà devotion from diverse vantage points, their collective effort makes this one of the most authoritative texts on Yorùbá religion and a groundbreaking book that heralds this rich, complex, and variegated tradition as one of the world's great religions.
“Contributes to a deeper and more sympathetic understanding of Yorùbá culture and religion and will be the definitive text for students, teachers, and practitioners of Òrìṣà tradition for a long time.”
—Akintunde E. Akinade, High Point University, North Carolina
Jacob K. Olupona is professor of African religious traditions at Harvard Divinity School and professor of African and African American studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University. He is the author and editor of many books, including African Spirituality, Beyond Primitivism, and African Traditional Religions in Contemporary Society.

Terry Rey is associate professor of religion at Temple University. He is the author of Our Lady of Class Struggle: The Cult of the Virgin Mary in Haiti and Bourdieu on Religion.
Rowland Abiódún, Cornelius Oyeleke Adepegba, Afe Adogame, Diedre L. Badejo, Sandra T. Barnes, George Brandon, Kamari Maxine Clarke, H. O. Danmolé, José Jorge de Carvalho, Ikukomi Djisovi Eason, Barry Hallen, Tracey E. Hucks, Laënnec Hurbon, Flora Edouwaye S. Kaplan, J. Lorand Matory, Joseph M. Murphy, Jacob K. Olupona, Olásopé Oyediji Oyèláràn , John Pemberton, III, José Flávio Pessoa de Barros, Reginaldo Prandi, Terry Rey, Mercedes Cros Sandoval, Rita Laura Segato, Rev. Juan J. Sosa, Wole Soyinka, Olúfémi Táíwò, Marta Moreno Vega, Olabiyi Babalola Yai

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the cover of this book on Orisa is blue, with an African inspired motif of the world in brown centered in the blue.

April 2008

592 pp.    6 x 9   
18 b/w illus.

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Paper $34.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-22464-6 
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