Congratulations to History of Art Professor David Doris on winning the 2012 Melville J. Herskovits Award for his book Vigilant Things: On Thieves, Yoruba Anti-Aesthetics, and the Strange Fates of Ordinary Objects in Nigeria.
Awarded by the African Studies Association (ASA), the Herskovits Award is considered the premier book prize for non-fiction in African Studies worldwide. Founded in 1957, ASA is the largest organization with a global membership devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa.
About Vigilant Things: Throughout southwestern Nigeria, Yoruba men and women create objects called aale to protect their properties--farms, gardens, market goods, piles of collected firewood--from the ravages of thieves. In Vigilant Things, Doris argues that aale are keys to understanding how images function in Yoruba social and cultural life.
"In this engaging, frank, and insightful documentation of how insignificant things are transformed into art pieces in Yoruba cultural milieu, the author negates some Western myths about the Yoruba--specifically, that they are primitive and therefore lack development." -Anthonia Makwemoisa Yakuba, Journal of Folklore Research, April 2012