Asen, Ancestors and Vodun: Tracing Change in African Art by ProQuest


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									                                                                Book Reviews 217

Klein on a number of minor issues. For example, while the profligacy of
“FESTAC 77” (The 1977 Lagos World Festival of African Arts and Cul-
ture) is unquestionable, it is not entirely correct to suggest that the event
served mainly to promote Nigeria as a model of African or black culture;
the diversity and scope of cultural activity at the festival do not justify this
observation. And although nostalgia was palpable, many events at the festi-
val clearly reflected and celebrated the existential reality of life in modern
Africa. I also think that the significance of overseas collaboration has been
exaggerated in this book. As the author admits, the sustenance of indig-
enous musicians and their art is more crucially dependent on a sustained
local patronage than on sporadic gains from overseas trips.
     Klein’s prose is readable, while her analysis is penetrating and refresh-
ing. Her narrative is spiced with ethnographic testimonies that take the
reader right into the heart of Yoruba life and culture. And by focusing on
the practice of collaboration rather than on the products of that encounter,
she privileges the processual nature of human interaction and the agency
of local participants who construct survival strategies in response to the
evolving nature of their social and political environment.
                                                                   Bode Omojola
                                                          Mount Holyoke College
                                                     South Hadley, Massachusetts

Edna g. Bay. Asen, Ancestors and Vodun: Tracing Change in African Art.
Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008. xiv + 186 pp. Photographs.
Maps. Figures. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $40.00. Cloth.

Edna Bay’s voice is important among the dedicated chorus of scholars of
the Dahomey kingdom. Now part of the territory comprising modern-day
Benin on the Atlantic coast of West Africa, Dahomey served as one of the
major West African trading and export partners for Europeans before and
during the colonial era. Bay draws from the colonial archives and her own
deep scholarly engagement with Dahomey over the past thirty years to
trace the changing historical role of a single object type—th
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