Ayodeji Ogunnaike

Assistant Professor (AAS)

Afro-Brazilian Studies, Africana Religion, Folklore & Mythology, Islam in Africa, Christianity in Africa

Minor Hall 230

Professor Ogunnaike is a scholar of African and Afro-diasporic religious traditions, primarily in Brazil and Nigeria, with a keen interest in the ways each region has influenced the practice of religion in the other. He studied Ifa divination with high priest Ifarinwale Ogundiran in Modakeke, Nigeria, and while his main areas of research are Brazilian Candomblé and oriṣa worship in Nigeria, he also studies Islam and Christianity on the continent and in diaspora as well as other Afro-diasporic traditions.

His most recent book project, Forms of Worship: How Oriṣa Devotion Became Religion in Nigeria and Brazil analyzes how the worship of traditional Yoruba deities originally differed greatly from Western notions of “religion” but eventually became the most widespread and celebrated indigenous African religion through experience in the Atlantic diaspora, contact with modernity, and Christian mission activity. His work has been supported by grants from the Ford Foundation and American Philosophical Society among others. He is currently working on Yoruba Mythology: Stories of the Oriṣa, Ijapa and Yoruba Heroes, the first major anthology of Yoruba mythology, with his brother and fellow member of UVA faculty, Oludamini Ogunnaike, and curates an online library of Ifa orature. Ogunnaike is also part of The Islamic Worlds Initiative at UVA whose goal is to be a meeting point for scholars from around Grounds who are studying regions and/or communities where Islamic ways of life play an important role.