Report – Guest Lecture “Global Orisha: Diasporic Connections in the “Yoruba-inspired Atlantic” by Dr. Stefania Capone

Date: February 7, 2019
Time: 2pm
Location: Draper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan

IFRA-Nigeria opened the 2019 season of scientific events with a Guest Lecture given by Dr. Stefania Capone, themed on “Global Orisha: Diasporic connections in the ‘Yoruba inspired Atlantic’”. The event was organized in partnership with the Thursday Film Series and with the support of the Institute of African Studies (IAS, UI).

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Dr. Stefania Capone is a French anthropologist, a research director at the CNRS since 2006 and an associate researcher at the Centre for Social Research on Religion at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (CeSor, EHESS, Paris, France). She is conducting ethnographic research on afro-american religions in Brazil since the 80s and more extensively in Latin America and in the US.

Dr Capone’s Guest Lecture was exploring, through comparative analysis, the trans-nationalisation of Afro-American religions to their relocalisation and the process of “re-Africanisation” of the religions and the narratives stored in the African memory.

“The connections between different national traditions of Orisha religion and their transnationalization across the “Yoruba-inspired Atlantic” is, today, one of the most important changes in the field of Afro-Brazilian religions. Some Candomblé initiates go to Africa in search of ritual knowledge, through their contacts with Yoruba babalawos, while others weave ritual ties with Cuban babalaos who arrived in Brazil at the beginning of the 90s. Nowadays, the process of strengthening the roots involves travelling, not only to Nigeria, but also to other traditional centers of Orisha worship, as La Havana or Matanzas in Cuba. The spread of Yoruba-inspired religions has created networks of ritual kinship that now span national boundaries, giving rise to transnational communities of worshippers, as Batuque and Africanismo in Argentina and Uruguay, or Regla de Ocha in Mexico and in the United States. The proliferation of these increasingly active networks of priests and their attempts to gain recognition as a World Religion from established religious and secular institutions have become an important aspect of the whole array of Orisha traditions since the 80s. In this lecture, I will focus on two aspects of these conversations between different conceptions of Orisha tradition: the re-Africanization process and the reintroduction of Ifá worship in Brazil, both instrumental for the recognition of Orisha tradition as a World religion. We will see that the re-Africanization movement generates multiple visions of Yoruba religious tradition, in a disputed transnational religious space.”

Over 60 people attended the conference. The lecture was followed by a series of questions from the audience, including comments and reflections from Dr. Sola Olorunyomi (Media studies, Institute of African Studies, UI), Prof. Dele Layiwola (Institute of African Studies, UI), Dr. I. A. Jimoh (Director of the Institute of African Studies, UI), Pr. Olutayo Adesina (Dep. Of History, UI), Dr. Senayon Olaoluwa (Diaspora and Transnational Studies, Institute of African Studies, UI). The event was also marked by the presence and a short speech by the Araba of the United States.

The guest lecture was followed by the screening of the movie “Arugba” by Tunde Klani by the Thursday Film Series movie club.

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 Over 60 people attended the Guest Lecture at Draper’s Hall, Institute of African Studies (UI)

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Dr Stefania Capone explains the influence of the Candomblé in Brazil and its links to Yoruba religions

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Dr. Sola Olorunyomi closing remarks and discussion

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