A defining feature of post-colonial West Africa is increasing cross-border migration, making the region a quintessential “social laboratory” through which to interrogate and heighten our comprehension of memory, migrations and pan-Africanist ideals. The Ghana project relates to memory, migration, communities, and new ways of Pan-Africanism in connection with the historical, comparative and contemporary issues such as the Nigerian, Malian, Burkinabe and Senegalese diasporas in Ghana, and mobility in West Africa in general. The migrations have tended to challenge the nation-state and also xenophobia. And, in some instances, they have even led to the construction of parallel political economies different from those under the influence of the states. Two things stand out, namely place-making and meaning-making. The project would explore the existing body of knowledge on memory (itself contestable and manipulateable), migration and new ways of pan Africanism.

The project is guided by questions in three categories and cover the basics of who, why, when, which, how, what, etc.  Here they are:

Immigration Patterns

(1) Who immigrated and why?

(2) When and how did they immigrate?

(3) What were the highlights of the immigration process?

(4) Where did they settle and why?

Existential Forms & Experiences in the Host Locations (in Ghana)

(1) What did they do in Ghana?

(2) How were they treated and how did they adapt?

(3) What were their ties to home and how did they retain and/or transform those ties?

(4) In what ways, forms and structures did they retain, transmit and/or transform their socio-cultural and political heritage?

(5) Were there generational transformation/differences or gaps in terms of identity?

(6) Who belonged and who was denied belonging?


(1) Where is the knowledge base?

(2) How were the dominant narratives crafted, by whom and how were they validated?

(3) What events shaped and reshaped the narrative forms?

(4) How did the narratives reflect the balance of power and dynamics of intra-community/inter-community relations?

(5) What was/is the status of counter-narratives of communities and identities?

(6) What explains any existing differences in knowledge base and status among the different groups and communities?

(7) What are the criteria and tools for gauging the validity/authenticity, methodology, scope and quality of existing knowledge forms?

(8) How do existing bodies of textual and oral knowledge and narratives reflect the actual contexts and textures of historical communities?

(9) How are narratives of the past utilized for bridging and binding as well as addressing threats and challenges to the social fabric of the relevant communities?

The final outcome of the project would be a valuable pool of competence to redefine priorities and redesign methodologies to make research in the humanities more relevant to societies that still suffer greatly from extraverted systems of knowledge production.

Research Team: Kojo Opuku Aidoo

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