Accepted Paper:

Connections, identity formation and disruptions-a study of selected groups among African Americans  


Albert Oikelome (University of Lagos)

Paper short abstract:

The current project will study music and dance in festivals and performances by specific groups with the aim of understanding how identity (more so than religious belief) is (re) constructed among African Americans.

Paper long abstract:

The past decade has witnessed a significant increase in Yorùbá cultural practices in the eastern United States, including Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. This includes festivals, religious practices and musical performances that serve both as a means of exchange of culture by Nigerian immigrants. Subsequently, this leads to further inquiries by the African Americans who desire to reconnect with their roots. Diasporic manifestations of Yorùbá culture always bear some resemblance with what is being practiced by Yorùbá communities in southwestern Nigeria. They are also distinct forms of cultural expression as they span a continuum from carefully authentic to creatively syncretic. This study seeks to compare what happens when recreated in the US. Using an ethnographic approach, the study will explore ways in which the music addresses issues of historical reconstruction, identity contestation and other issues that surround their very existence which is reflected in the songs. The research will cover musical activities in groups such as Òyótúnjí Village (Beaufort, South Carolina), Ayòdélé Drum and Dance (Chicago, Illinois), African Heritage Dancers and Drummers Group (Washington D.C.), Yorùbá Heritage Drummers in (Atlanta, Georgia), Ifa Temple of African Religion (New York) and Omo Òrìsà Ilè Òṣun Temple (Pennsylvania). Using Sue and Sue's Racial and Cultural Identity Development Theory, this study will provide insight particularly on how some African American are adopting and adapting Yorùbá Cultural heritage to form new identities.

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Yorùbá culture and music as connections, identity formation and disruptions among African Americans