Omotayo Jolaosho Picture

Omotayo Jolaosho

Assistant Professor


Home Campus: Tampa
Office: FAO 261

Office Hours: By appointment


I am a socio-cultural anthropologist who focuses on the interdisciplinary intersections of performance, politics, and embodiment. Since 2007, I have worked in South Africa investigating the role of embodied performance within activist collectives opposing neoliberal state economic policies. Between 2009 and 2010, I was in Johannesburg pursuing fieldwork with a social movement organization, investigating its internal dynamics and public contestations through a performance lens. That research has yielded a number of publications and is the basis of my current book project, You Can’t Go to War Without Song: Performance and Community Mobilization in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

Among its interventions, You Can’t Go to War Without Song advances feminist political theory by elaborating the dissonance between activist practices and avowed commitments to gender equity. Complex gender dynamics structured the participation of activists within the social movement the book examines. Although women activists constituted a majority of the membership of the movement, contributing numbers and vibrancy to protest demonstrations, their numbers were not well represented in leadership structures, which were male-dominated. In their gendered interventions, they inaugurated different modes of activist practice, emphasizing healing, communal support and personal transformation over seeking token representation among movement leadership or combative engagement. Their embodied practices offer a reconceptualization of mobilization that is attuned to activists’ rallying of their individual bodies and intersubjective bonds as they participated in collective action.

Myself a performer, I am developing a one-woman show based on interviews with these women activists. The development process continues to reveal performance to be a site of transmitting and transcending knowledge in that I continue to uncover critical dimensions of activists’ experiences that had been easily overlooked in prior analytical categories.

Writing Resistance Book Cover

Beyond South Africa, I am the co-editor of African Women Writing Resistance: Contemporary Voices, a transnational anthology focused on African women's narratives of resistance to the challenges they experience on the continent and within its diaspora. My poetry has also been featured in the “Activisms” issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly (November 2007).

My research has been supported by grants and fellowships from, among other sources, the U.S. Department of Education (Fulbright-Hays DDRA), the National Science Foundation (NSF-GRF and NSF-DDIG), the Social Science Research Council (IDRF), and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Center for Research in the Humanities at the University of California, Merced.


2013   Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology
           Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey

2009   M.A. in Cultural Anthropology
           Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey

2004   B.A. in Liberal Arts, Concentrations: Music and Integrated Arts
           Simon’s Rock College of Bard, Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Research Interests

Performance, political aesthetics, activism, social movements, embodiment, public memory

  • Introduction to the Black Experience
  • Culture and Society in Africa
  • How #BlackLivesMatter: Precarity and Protest in Global Perspective (Graduate Seminar)
  • Graduate Seminar on Contemporary Africa