Borgatti Presents Paper on Research in Nigeria

Tall Ghosts Enegbekesomi (after the woman it commemorates) and Oyinbo (White Person) with researcher, Professor Jean Borgatti

Jean Borgatti (Assistant Professor, History of Art + Visual Culture) recently presented a paper at the 2017 African Studies Conference held in Chicago. The paper focused on the history and sources memorial masquerades of Edo-speaking people living in Nigeria, Tall Ghosts, that returned annually to dance with their living kin and affirmed community solidarity and is based on previous research carried out in the 1970s and updated with current research carried out between 2015-2017.

Tall Ghost in performance mode demonstrates the sweeping of footprints away by the trailing cloth of the masquerade costume.

The most interesting information presented even for specialists in the area concerned the process of consecrating a masquerade to be left behind by the researcher in order to be remembered in the one community that allowed women to be commemorated by what was historically the form reserved for men. Photographs show the researcher with a masquerade commemorating one of the women who helped inaugerate the festival in her community in the 1950s and the researcher’s masquerade as well as a masquerade in performance that shows why they are described ‘as leaving no footprint on the ground.’