James de Vere Allen was Curator of the Lamu Museum.

Swahili Origins

Swahili Culture and The Shungwaya Phenomenon

By James de Vere Allen

Kiswahili has become the lingua franca of eastern Africa. Yet there can be few historic peoples whose identity is as elusive as that of the Swahili. Some have described themselves as Arabs, as Persians or even, in one place, as Portuguese. It is doubtful whether, even today, most of the people about whom this book is written would unhesitatingly and in all contexts accept the name Swahili. This book was central to the thought and lifework of the late James de Vere Allen.


Crazy Quilts
A Beginner’s Guide
This definitive, meticulously illustrated how-to book is far more expansive than previous guides. Pillsbury—a master of the form—shows us why crazy quilting belongs firmly in the category of fine art and serves as an inspiring primer for beginners.


Winold Reiss and the Cincinnati Union Terminal
Fanfare for the Common Man
After designing and installing the massive murals for the Cincinnati Union Terminal in the 1930s, German immigrant artist Winold Reiss fell into relative obscurity, despite the vibrancy and boldness of his meticulous mosaic works.


Viet Nam
Tradition and Change
An accessible and erudite primer on Vietnamese history and culture from one of Việt Nam’s finest minds.


Obama and Kenya
Contested Histories and the Politics of Belonging
Barack Obama’s political ascendancy has focused worldwide attention on Kenya. Carotenuto and Luongo argue that efforts to cast Obama as a “son of the soil” of the Lake Victoria basin invite insights into the politicized uses of Kenya’s past.


Subversive Lives
A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years
From the 1960s to the 1990s, seven members of the Quimpo family dedicated themselves to the anti-Marcos resistance in the Philippines, sometimes at profound personal cost.