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Cherise Smith, Ph.D, Director JES A232A, Mailcode D7200, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-1784

Yoruba Studies

History of Yoruba Studies

Yoruba Studies at UT began as a student-driven initiative from the African Student Association (ASA) in collaboration with the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS).  These groups were concerned about the absence of instruction in indigenous African languages at UT.  The ASA students circulated petitions, consulted with faculty, met with administrators and, as a result of their hard work, the Yoruba Studies Program was born in 2002.  Dr. Akin Alao of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Ile-Ife, Nigeria was hired to teach Yoruba Language as well as Yoruba History and Culture. 

When Dr. Alao returned to OAU, Dr. Fehintola Mosadomi from Tulane University was hired to teach the Yoruba courses.  Dr. Omoniyi Afolabi was also hired to supplement the language instruction, and to teach courses on the Yoruba presence in Brazil, along with Lusophone-African literature in general. 

Programming and Events: Yoruba Studies in the Warfield Center

CAAAS supports Yoruba Studies through programming and events centered around diasporic Yoruba culture. Several art pieces in both the Isese Gallery and newly acquired African Art collection have Yoruba roots. In addition, the Warfield Center sponsors several large Yoruba-themed events such as Yoruba Day and Yoruba film series. Keep up-to-date with Warfield Center events through Facebook, Twitter, and this website in order to stay connected to the Yoruba world as promoted by Black Studies!

Yoruba Studies in the African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) Department Yoruba Art

Dr. Afolabi and Dr. Mosadomi have been joined by additional Yoruba Studies faculty, including Dr. Christopher Adejumo, Dr. Toyin Falola who teaches courses in Yoruba history, Dr. Jossiana Arroyo-Martinez who teaches literature courses with Yoruba diasporic content, Dr. Moyo Okediji who teaches Yoruba visual aesthetics, and Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones who teaches courses in Yoruba theatrical and ritual performance.

The Yoruba Studies Program fosters an understanding of Yoruba politics, aesthetics, and spiritual cosmology that is diasporic in focus.  Not only is Yorubaland of Nigeria considered, but nearby African countries such as Benin and Togo,  as well as Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad, the United States (particularly Miami and New York City), and Puerto Rico are studied. These diasporic areas are positioned as integral components of any contemporary understanding of Yoruba reality. For more information on exploring academics in Yoruba Studies, please consult the AADS department website.

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