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Winner, 2014 Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award,
Arts Council of the African Studies Association

“This book is a landmark in the history of African visual and material culture.”
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Cambridge Journals



Edited by Marla C. Berns, Richard Fardon, and Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

From the Niger-Benue confluence in the center of Nigeria, moving eastward to the border with Cameroon, the Benue River Valley stretches over 650 miles. Central Nigeria Unmasked,the most in-depth study to date, illuminates the remarkable creativity and artistic legacy of the many peoples occupying this vast region, the source of some of the most abstract, dramatic, and inventive sculpture in sub-Saharan Africa.

During the nineteenth century, a series of dramatic and disruptive events—including a Fulani-led jihad; Chamba slave raiding; and increasing European exploration and missionary efforts—contributed to widespread dispersals and relocations of many Benue peoples. Whole villages, for example, were forced to flee from north of the river to establish new communities to the south. The essays in Central Nigeria Unmasked highlight the ways that artworks bear witness to these dynamic histories of exchange and interaction among local groups.

Thirty years in the making, this volume owes much to the pioneering work of the late art historian Arnold Rubin (1937–1988). Rubin carried out fieldwork throughout the Benue Valley as a doctoral student from 1964 to 1966 and again in the 1980s, focusing particularly on the people known as the Jukun, whose history has usually been seen to hold a key to that of the region as a whole. His perceptive writing and photographs inform much of the book.

Edited by Marla C. Berns, Richard Fardon, Sidney Kasfir: Central Nigeria Unmasked – Arts of the Benue River Valley

608 pages, 9 x 12 inches
ISBN 0-97809778344-5-7, paperback, $75.00
ISBN 0-97809778344-6-4, hardcover, $100.00


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