Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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William Rea

Senior Lecturer

0113 34 32395

Fine Art Room 3.18

BSc London, MA, PhD East Anglia

African art, anthropology and art history, sculpture theory, material culture.

Research Interests

My major research concerns the masquerades of the Ekiti Yoruba in Nigeria but my research is more generally focussed on the art history of West Africa and African more generally, both in terms of the classical traditions and the visual response to modernity. I am developing research on cultural entrepreneurship and the creative industries in Lagos and Ibadan.

I also work on the interface between art history and anthropology and have recently been working on the visual forms established by varied economic formulations. This is part of an ongoing interest in the nature of the object and material culture.

I also have research interests in twentieth and twenty first century sculpture.


My main teaching interests concern African art and material culture. I teach both the ‘classical’ traditions of African art, including textiles, painting, sculpture and masquerade, and contemporary African engagements with modernity. While my interests are centred around West Africa and Nigeria specifically, I extend the study of art across the continent and in the Atlantic world more generally. My initial training in anthropology means that I have an active interest in teaching on the engagement between the disciplines of anthropology and art history, looking at the philosophical similarities and differences that underpin the conception of both disciplines. With some of my colleagues I teach a course that looks to investigate the ways in which Europe has visually represented other peoples, both within and out of its borders. I maintain an active interest in teaching the history and theory of sculpture and in the study of material culture, especially in museological contexts.



  • Rea WR (2012) No Event No History: Performance and Politics in Ekiti masquerade.

  • Rea WR (1996) African Art. Facts on File.

Journal articles

  • Rea WR (2011) “Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa”, The Sculpture Journal. 20.1: 89-90.

  • Rea WR (2008) “A prevalence of witches:wichcraft and popular culture in the making of a Yoruba town”, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture. XVIII

  • Rea WR (2008) “Making history: The modernity of masquerade in Ikole Ekiti”, African Arts. 41.4: 10-25.

  • Rea WR (2007) “On Staging Performance: the masquerade fesitval of Ikole Ekiti”, Journal of African Cultural Studies. 19.1: 95-112.
    DOI: 10.1080/13696810701485959

  • Rea WR (2006) “No condition is permanent: the Egigun masquerades of Ikole Ekiti”, The Nigerian Field. 71: 45-75.

  • Rea WR (2000) “Wonderment”, The Sculpture Journal. IX: 118-119.

  • Rea WR (1998) “Rationalising Culture: Youth, Elites and Masquerade Politics”, Africa (Edinburgh). 68: 98-117.


  • Rea WR (2017) “Amòdu and the Material Manifestation of Eégún”, In: Basu P (eds.) The Inbetweenness of Things: Materializing Mediation and Movement between Worlds. London: Bloomsbury.
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/102663/

  • Rea WR (2014) “On Living in Ikole”, In: Omolewa M; Osuntokun A (eds.) JF Ade Ajayi: His Life and Career. Ibadan: Bookcraft.

  • Rea WR (2013) “Our tradition is a very modern tradition: from cultural tradition to popular culture in South Western Nigeria.”, In: Newell S; Okome O (eds.) Popular Culture in Africa: The episteme of the everyday.. Routledge.

  • Rea WR (2011) “Shared sites and misleading affinities: sculpture as archaeology and archaeology as sculpture”, In: Bonaventura P; Jones A (eds.) Sculpture and Archaeology. Ashgate. 19-31

  • Rea W (2010) “Anthropology and Postcolonialism”, In: Richards SCD (eds.) A concise companion to post colonial literature. Blackwell Wiley. 182-203

  • Rea WR (2008) “Finding your contemporaries: the modernities of African art”, In: Harris J (eds.) Identity theft:cultural colonialisation and contemporary art. Tate Liverpool Critical Forum. Liverpool University Press. 135-157

  • Rea WR (2004) “Anthropology”, In: Mcquillan M (eds.) The years work in critical and cultural theory. Oxford. 225-236

  • Rea WR (1999) “Masks and Styles: Yoruba masquerade in a regional perspective”, In: Arnaut K (eds.) Re-Visions: New perspectives on the African collections of the Horniman Museum. Contributions in critical museology. Re-Visions: New perspectives on the African collections of the Horniman Museum. 159-170


  • Winder JR, Rea W Yoruba Textiles, Cloth and Tradition in West Africa.

  • Rea WR Truth and Beauty: African Art at Harewood house.

  • Rea WR Ronnie Duncan Collection: Works from the 1950s and 1970s.

External Appointments

Chair of the Harlow Art Trust

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

I am willing to supervise PhDs on the following topics:

African Art history
Anthropology and Art
Performance and politics
Yoruba and Nigerian history

Current PGRs

Lara Eggleton: ‘Re-Envisioning the Alhambra: Readings of Space and Form in the “Palace” of the Other’, submission date 2011.




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