John Thabiti Willis (PhD, 2008) published Masquerading Politics: Kinship, Gender, and Ethnicity in a Yoruba Town with Indiana University Press in 2017. Willis’ book is a finalist for the African Studies Association Book Prize, the premier award given by the association. The book stems from Willis’ 2008 dissertation, “Masquerading Politics: Power and Transformation in a West African Kingdom.” Professor Emeritus of History Kristin Mann was Willis’s advisor.
Willis is Associate Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies at Carleton College. Read the summary of Masquerading Politics from Indiana UP below.
“In West Africa, especially among Yoruba people, masquerades have the power to kill enemies, appoint kings, and grant fertility. John Thabiti Willis takes a close look at masquerade traditions in the Yoruba town of Otta, exploring transformations in performers, performances, and the institutional structures in which masquerade was used to reveal ongoing changes in notions of gender, kinship, and ethnic identity. As Willis focuses on performers and spectators, he reveals a history of masquerade that is rich and complex. His research offers a more nuanced understanding of performance practices in Africa and their role in forging alliances, consolidating state power, incorporating immigrants, executing criminals, and projecting individual and group power on both sides of the Afro-Atlantic world.”