John Peel’s previous ebook, not but released, starts with the circumstance of Michael Adebolajo, who killed Lee Rigby, to search at the back links among Islam, Christianity and Orisa-religion. Photograph: Sophie Baker
John Peel, who has died aged 73, was a top determine in the British examine of Africa whose specific area of experience was the Yoruba individuals of south-western Nigeria. He pioneered the comprehending that African societies and cultures ended up richly intricate entities that might stand comparison with any other people close to the world his operate aided to emancipate Africans from scholarly neglect, and the dismissive attitudes born of the slave trade, colonialism and racism.
His perform on the Yoruba portrayed a tradition of immense sophistication in its beliefs, values, perceptions, and organisation. John’s principal desire was in belief (he was himself a practising Anglican), and he demonstrated the approaches in which Yoruba individuals adopted mission Christianity, and then reworked it into some thing that addressed their very own demands and aspirations. In so performing he showed an acute awareness of the continuities between the Yoruba past, present, and attainable long term.
John’s 1st guide, Aladura: a Spiritual Movement Amongst the Yoruba (1968) explored how Aladura or “prayer” churches had emerged to meet up with the new problems of capitalist modernity, but inside of a framework derived from the Yoruba people’s comprehension of their very own historical past. These ended up no Africans passively imposed upon by the west, but individuals with a self-aware ability to choose what suited them, and to adapt it to their possess reasons. This theme also underwrote Ijeshas and Nigerians: The Incorporation of a Yoruba Kingdom, eighteen nineties-seventies (1983), in which John documented abundant historical encounter and shown its continuing relevance.
For Religious Experience and the Making of the Yoruba (2000), about the spiritual history of the Yoruba in the nineteenth century, John drew on the archives of the evangelical Anglican Church Missionary Culture (CMS) for his close and delicate studying of a large selection of evidence.
His recognition of the at any time rising interlinking of the globe’s inhabitants discovered its ultimate expression in his last operate, the shortly-to-be-printed Christianity, Islam and Orisa-Religion. The guide normally takes its cue from the circumstance of Michael Adebolajo, a London-born Yoruba with Christian antecedents who in 2013 killed the British soldier Lee Rigby on the streets of the capital in the title of Islam. John used heritage and anthropology to explore the circumstance and meditate on the links amongst Islam, Christianity, and the indigenous Orisa-faith. In before many years John admired the noteworthy mutual tolerance amongst Yoruba Muslims and Christians, but Africa, Nigeria and the Yoruba are not immune to the shifting currents inside of religion today.
Peel was born in Dumfries, the eldest of four children of Edwin, a professor of training, and his spouse, Nora (nee Yeadon), who experienced been a main university instructor. He attended King Edward’s school in Birmingham, then Balliol College, Oxford, where he earned a BA in 1963, and LSE, where he took his PhD in 1966.
His educating career provided stints at Nottingham College, LSE, Ife College in Nigeria, Liverpool College, and the University of Oriental and African Scientific studies, London, exactly where he was professor of anthropology and sociology with reference to Africa, from 1989 until finally 2008.
John was a scholar who was significantly anxious by – to use one of his own phrases – “the past in the present”. His very own faith accommodated all other individuals in a truly ecumenical quest for tolerant understanding. He experienced a questing curiosity about and fascination in other men and women. Therefore, he released Herbert Spencer: The Evolution of a Sociologist (1971), about the fairly forbidding Victorian social theorist, merely simply because the gentleman and his functions fascinated him. He dragged me all around limitless cathedrals and churches in southern France for a projected ebook on the life of folks in the shadow of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
In 1969 he married Jennifer Pare the marriage was dissolved in 2000. Last calendar year, he married Anne Ogbigbo. She survives him, along with the three sons from his first marriage, 6 grandchildren, and his sisters, Susan and Libby, and brother, Tim.
• John David Yeadon Peel, anthropologist and sociologist, born 13 November 1941 died 2 November 2015