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The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World

Edited by Toyin Falola and Matt D. Childs

Publication Year: 2004

This innovative anthology focuses on the enslavement, middle passage, American experience, and return to Africa of a single cultural group, the Yoruba. Moving beyond descriptions of generic African experiences, this anthology will allow students to trace the experiences of one cultural group throughout the cycle of the slave experience in the Americas. The 19 essays, employing a variety of disciplinary perspectives, provide a detailed study of how the Yoruba were integrated into the Atlantic world through the slave trade and slavery, the transformations of Yoruba identities and culture, and the strategies for resistance employed by the Yoruba in the New World.

The contributors are Augustine H. Agwuele, Christine Ayorinde, Matt D. Childs, Gibril R. Cole, David Eltis, Toyin Falola, C. Magbaily Fyle, Rosalyn Howard, Robin Law, Babatunde Lawal, Russell Lohse, Paul E. Lovejoy, Beatriz G. Mamigonian, Robin Moore, Ann O'Hear, Luis Nicolau Parés, Michele Reid, Jo

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Blacks in the Diaspora


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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

In David Eltis’s Rise of African Slavery in the Americas (2000) a particular statement stood out strongly, which called for extra attention. Drawing upon the massive trans-Atlantic slave trade database, Eltis remarked that although the Yoruba did not constitute a majority of the forced African captives shipped across ...

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1. The Yoruba Diaspora in the Atlantic World: Methodology and Research

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pp. 1-14

The African diaspora as a field of scholarly investigation has been studied for more than one hundred years, and that interest shows no sign of waning as the world becomes increasingly integrated.1 As contemporary ethnic and racial conflicts dot the globe, the lessons of racial and ethnic oppression and the strategies ...

I. The Yoruba Homeland and Diaspora

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pp. 15

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2. The Diaspora of Yoruba Speakers, 1650–1865: Dimensions and Implications

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pp. 17-39

The study of slavery, and more broadly of the repopulation of the Americas, has been shaped by those scholars who are prepared to engage with data as well as text. For example, common sense suggests that any evaluation of the process of Creolization requires some basic information on how many immigrants came from ...

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3. The Yoruba Factor in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

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pp. 40-55

Using demographic data, this chapter attempts to account for the strong Yoruba influence in the African diaspora in the Americas, as well as in West Africa, since the late eighteenth century. According to the previous chapter by David Eltis, almost half the enslaved who left the ports of the Bight of Benin were Yoruba, ...

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4. The Enslavement of Yoruba

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pp. 56-74

The collapse of the Oyo Empire in the early nineteenth century and the prolonged Yoruba wars led to the enslavement of a great many Yoruba people and a sharp increase in the numbers of Yoruba slaves who were transported across the Atlantic to the New World, as demonstrated by David Eltis and Paul E. Lovejoy. ...

II. The Yoruba Diaspora in the Americas

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pp. 75

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5. Nagô and Mina: The Yoruba Diaspora in Brazil

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pp. 77-110

The extension and volume of the Brazilian slave trade, and the special connection between Bahia and the Bight of Benin made Brazil, along with Cuba, home to one of the largest concentrations of Yoruba-speaking peoples in the Americas. This chapter addresses the distribution of the Yoruba diaspora throughout Brazil, ...

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6. The Yoruba in Cuba: Origins, Identities, and Transformations

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pp. 111-129

From Havana to Santiago de Cuba and cities in between, the four-hundred-year-old presence of the Yoruba diaspora pulses throughout twenty-first-century Cuba. Yoruba influences in contemporary Cuba can be found in music, dance, and religion, and prime examples include the sounds and sights of son ...

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7. Africans in a Colony of Creoles: The Yoruba in Colonial Costa Rica

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pp. 130-156

The Yoruba diaspora in Central America differed substantially from betterknown examples such as that in Brazil, Cuba, and Trinidad, where Yoruba influence proved particularly strong. Colonial Costa Rica, arguably among the most isolated and neglected of all Spanish American colonies, developed no large-scale ...

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8. Yoruba in the British Caribbean: A Comparative Perspective on Trinidad and the Bahamas

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pp. 157-176

Yoruba culture was transplanted to the Caribbean region with its African adherents during the holocaust of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The region absorbed over 50 percent of the ten to twenty million Africans who involuntarily left the continent and survived the middle passage.1 Members of the Yoruba state ...

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9. The Influential Yoruba Past in Haiti

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pp. 177-182

Among their forced New World destinations, large numbers of Yoruba arrived in Haiti. Even with the comparatively early end to the trans-Atlantic slave trade to the island as a result of the Haitian Revolution, forced migrants from the Bight of Benin, both Yoruba and non-Yoruba, constituted such a large proportion ...

III. The Cultural Foundations of the Yoruba Diaspora

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pp. 183

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10. The “Nagôization” Process in Bahian Candomblé

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pp. 185-208

Candomblé is the name given to the regional development of Afro-Brazilian religion in the state of Bahia. Like other religious practice that originated in African traditions brought into Brazil by slaves, Candomblé involves the worship of a series of spiritual entities, often associated with forces of nature, who receive periodic ...

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11. Santería in Cuba: Tradition and Transformation

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pp. 209-230

Cuban Santería, also known as the “Regla de Ocha” (the rule or law of the orisha), is an example of how cultural and religious forms that are identifiably Yoruba have not only survived but have flourished in a new environment. Anthropologist William Bascom’s research in Nigeria and Cuba in the 1930s and 1940s ...

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12. From Gbe to Yoruba: Ethnic Change and the Mina Nation in Rio de Janeiro

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pp. 231-247

In Rio de Janeiro different African ethnic groups were hidden under the category “Mina” in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This classification gives a false sense of continuity to a social and ethnic process that was, in fact, extremely flexible over time. In Brazil most slaves identified as Mina ...

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13. Yoruba Family, Gender, and Kinship Roles in New World Slavery

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pp. 248-259

Studying Yoruba family and kinship within the context of the Yoruba diaspora connects three major historiographies that speak too little to one another. First, examining the manner in which Yoruba family structures and kinship ideologies were transformed during the era of New World slavery necessarily builds on ...

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14. Revolution and Religion: Yoruba Sacred Music in Socialist Cuba

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pp. 260-290

Those who study the arts as a pan-cultural phenomenon have long recognized the close ties between music and religious activity. Virtually all religions incorporate sound in some form into worship: from Gregorian chant and Bach toccatas to the bamboo flutes of Mevlevi Sufis and Buddhist meditation bells, ...

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15. Reclaiming the Past: Yoruba Elements in African American Arts

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pp. 291-324

The term “African American” indicates a synthesis of two traditions, the African and the American. Like the latter—a cluster of European, Amerindian, and other traditions—the African component comprises bits and pieces from different parts of the motherland. Over time, the African fragments have meshed so much ...

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16. “Yorubaisms” in African American “Speech” Patterns

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pp. 325-346

The collective intellect, achievement, and memory of any civilization or group of people can only be shared and transmitted from one generation to the other through the superlative capacity of mankind to hear and make those meaningful sounds that make up a language. When people especially from aural civilization ...

IV. The Return to Yorubaland

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pp. 347

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17. Yoruba Liberated Slaves Who Returned to West Africa

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pp. 349-365

The creation of a Yoruba diaspora in the Americas through the Atlantic slave trade is dealt with elsewhere in this volume. Enslaved Yoruba were sufficiently numerous in trans-Atlantic slave populations to remain visible as a distinct linguistic and cultural group, most often known in the Americas ...

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18. The Yoruba Diaspora in Sierra Leone’s Krio Society

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pp. 366-382

The term “African diaspora” that emerged in the middle of the twentieth century was, according to historians T. R. Patterson and R. D. Kelly, intended to “emphasize unifying experiences of African peoples dispersed by the slave trade.”1 Wherever such peoples are dispersed, the essence of a diaspora is ...

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19. Liberated Slaves and Islam in Nineteenth-Century West Africa

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pp. 383-404

Much of the literature on the nineteenth-century communities established by Africans liberated from the scourge of slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade has tended to portray these communities as if they were exclusively Christian entities. The narrative on the African settlements along the coast of West Africa ...


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pp. 405-446

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pp. 447-450

Augustine H. Agwuele holds degrees in German, English, and Pedagogy from the Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany. His research interests include natural language processing, syntax, phonetics, and phonology, and he has contributed chapters to various books. ...


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pp. 451-455

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003010
E-ISBN-10: 0253003016
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253344588

Page Count: 472
Illustrations: 10 b&w photos, 8 figures, 1 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Blacks in the Diaspora