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2 GUEST EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION Raymond A. Silverman University of Michigan This issue of Ghana Studies presents a group of papers, most of which were presented at the 47th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association held in November 2004, in New Orleans. The theme of the conference was “The Power of Expression: Identity, Language, and Memory in Africa and the Diaspora.” Osei-Mensah Aborampah (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Emmanuel Akyeampong (Harvard University), Susan Benson (University of Cambridge) and T.C. McCaskie (University of Birmingham), Anne Hugon (Institut Universitaire de France), Christine Mullen Kreamer (National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution), Wyatt MacGaffey (Haverford College), Deborah Pellow (Syracuse University) and Mansah Prah (University of Cape Coast) presented papers on a double panel, sponsored by the Ghana Studies Council, titled, “Sites/Sights of Memory in Ghana’s Cultural Landscapes.” Seven of these eight papers were revised for publication in this volume. In addition, we have included an article by Brempong Osei-Tutu (University of Ghana) as it deals directly with the theme of the panel, and, in fact, relates very closely to two of the other papers. The intent behind organizing this panel was to bring together a group of scholars from a range of disciplines to consider how “memory” has been used in the past and how it is currently used by various peoples in Ghana to construct social and cultural identities. The reference in the title of the double-panel to “sites of memory” is taken from Pierre Nora’s influential work, Les Lieux de Mémoire (Paris, 1984). In addition to his magnum opus, Nora also published, in 1989, an article, translated into English, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire” in the journal Representations, that offers a concise discussion of much of the salient theory presented in his 1984 work. In fact, several of the papers presented on our doublepanel draw upon Nora’s writing. Nora points out that one must differentiate between memory and history, for though they are inextricably associated with one another, the latter borne of the former, they are constructed and function in different ways. Nora’s (1989: 8-9) characterization of the two phenomena is worth quoting. 3 Memory and history, far from being synonymous, appear now to be in fundamental opposition. Memory is life, borne by living societies founded in its name. It remains in permanent evolution, open to the dialectic of remembering and forgetting, unconscious of its successive deformations, vulnerable to manipulation and appropriation, susceptible to being long dormant and periodically revived. History, on the other hand, is the reconstruction, always problematic and incomplete, of what is no longer. Memory is a perpetually actual phenomenon, a bond tying us to the eternal present; history is a representation of the past. Memory, insofar as it is affective and magical, only accommodates those facts that suit it; it nourishes recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, global or detached, particular or symbolic—responsive to each avenue of conveyance or phenomenal screen, to every censorship or projection. History, because it is an intellectual and secular production, calls for analysis and criticism. Memory installs remembrance within the sacred; history, always prosaic, releases it again. Memory is blind to all but the group it binds—which is to say, as Maurice Halbwachs has said, that there are as many memories as there are groups, that memory is by nature multiple and yet specific; collective, plural, and yet individual. History, on the other hand, belongs to everyone and to no one, whence its claim to universal authority. Memory takes root in the concrete, in spaces, gestures, images, and objects; history binds itself strictly to temporal continuities, to progressions and to relations between things. Memory is absolute, while history can only conceive the relative. Reading the group of papers included in this issue of GS, one observes that memory and its corollary, history, are situated in many different places and spaces in Ghana’s cultural landscapes. By way of introduction to this diverse set of essays, we might summarize their key themes and identify some of the sites where, to use Nora’s marvelous characterization of lieux de mémoires, “memory crystallizes and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2333-7168
Print ISSN
1536-5514
Pages
pp. 2-9
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-31
Open Access
No
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