I came to Indiana University because I wanted to compare African American and West African traditional religion and art. Over the years, I’ve immersed myself in Yoruba culture and language while also studying the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. My goal is to bridge the gap in understanding between Yoruba traditional religion and African-American religion, particularly in the context of the Southern United States, and even more particularly as it relates to the cultural history of African slaves and their descendants in states such as Alabama. I see numerous cultural, artistic, and linguistic connections that I want to explore. I want to shed light on the experiences of enslaved people in the South and their ways of adapting and preserving their indigenous culture and religions while also creating new ones.
Some of my research questions include:
- How have African-American communities in the South incorporated Yoruba elements into their religious practices? What are the social and cultural implications of this blending?
- What specific regions or communities in the Southern United States where Yoruba cultural and religious influences (or African culture and religion in general) are particularly pronounced?
- How have Yoruba art and artistic traditions influenced or manifested in African-American art, particularly as it related to visual arts in the context of religion?
- In what ways can the study of Yoruba religion and culture help us better understand the resilience and adaptation of African American religious practices during enslavement in the South?