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GHANA STUDIES / Volume 9 ISSN 1536-5514 / E-ISSN 2333-7168© 2008 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 1 EDITORS’ NOTE We are pleased to bring out Ghana Studies 9. This issue contains seven articles. While the themes they deal with are varied, they reflect the continuing quest to understand different strands and dis/continuities in Ghanaian history, social life and livelihoods. The first is a historical piece on Dutch gold-mining efforts in Ahanta in the 1840s; two articles on land and boundaries among “natives” and “strangers” in Asante and Brong Ahafo regions; two other articles, one on pastorship in Kumase, and the other on Virgin Clubs in Accra and Kumase, approach religion rather differently. The final two papers are on women and the informal economy, and a biography of a pre-independence Ghanaian Bolshevik respectively. Yarak’s article on failed Dutch attempts to mine gold in Ahanta during the 1840s brings out an early example of the organization of a colonial enterprise. As he shows, the careful Dutch approach required gathering information regarding the nature of gold deposits in the Gold Coast and the forms of gold extraction practiced by the Akan-speaking residents of the coast and interior. The data assembled by the Dutch and their servants at the coast include some of the earliest and most detailed first-hand accounts of precolonial Akan mining techniques on record. The articles by Berry and Lobnibe take up the vexed issues of inclusion and exclusion, land relations and livelihoods in contemporary Ghana, with a focus on Asante and Brong Ahafo respectively. Both articles forcefully bring up issues of citizenship, membership, belonging, boundaries and rights, and discursive strategies in the face of change, not only in rural areas with large populations of migrant farmers, but in cities as well. Berry describes changes in one peri-urban community near Kumasi that felt the effects of globalization between 1993 and 2002, a period in which growth and inequality have gone hand in hand. Differences in incomes and living standards have become apparent, both in the size and quality of older houses compared with those newly built with remittances from 2 Ghana Studies • volume 9 • 2006 abroad, and in the varied fortunes of their occupants, who are discursively referred to as “natives” and “strangers.” But Berry notes that the politics of reform and democratization have been complex, with a renewed emphasis on “custom,” not only as cultural heritage, but also as a source of social and political legitimacy. Traditional authorities have regained legitimacy and influence, while some have also emerged as entrepreneurs. Lobnibe frames his discussion of a local dispute over a boundary within a revisionist view that challenges conventional views of the arbitrariness of African colonial borders. He demonstrates in his case study that the two disputants, the Dormaa and Wenchi stools, have tried, in both their discourses and practices, either to subvert the boundary to advance their interests, or to use it as a weapon to nullify the claims of their rivals. The presence of migrants who were settled on the land by one or other disputant was not only to provide practical legitimacy to their claims, but they were also expected to recount the version of the narrative legitimizing their principal’s claims to the territory as a shared history, and become drawn into an age-old dispute. However, migrants are not just pawns, and may attempt to exploit local conflicts to their advantage. The Christian religious dimensions in contemporary Ghana are explored in Lauterbach’s paper on pastorship in Kiumase and in Darkwah and Arthur’s study of Virgin Clubs in Accra and Kumasi. While Lauterbach’s paper forcefully emphasizes continuities in Asante religious thought to understand the contemporary embrace of Charismaic Christianity, Darkwah’s and Arthur’s account make less use of the past, preferring instead to depict Virgin Clubs as new transnational instruments, with the objective of controlling the sexualities of poorer young female residents. Apusigah’s focus on Ghanaian women in the informal economy is important in itself as well as in countering the relative neglect of women and gender in previous issues of Ghana Studies. She positions the informal sector...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2333-7168
Print ISSN
1536-5514
Pages
pp. 1-3
Launched on MUSE
2020-05-09
Open Access
No
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