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Grant number like: FEL-257933-18

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Nathan Plageman
Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC 27109-6000)
State Planning and Urban Life in Western Ghana, 1900-1970

A book-length study of Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana’s first planned city, under both British and Ghanaian rule.

My work provides a longitudinal study of Sekondi-Takoradi: a small coastal settlement that became the West African nation of Ghana’s principal port and first “planned city.” It was a constant site of top-down urban planning: following its design by the colonial state, the city went through five master plans and near constant revision by British and Ghanaian authorities. Instead of examining officials’ efforts, I probe how its swelling population—which grew from 4,100 people in 1900 to 120,000 in 1960—navigated and shaped its regimented confines. As a social historian committed to unearthing ordinary peoples’ agency and experiences, I want to complicate our understanding of the city (and urban planning in modern Africa) by pursuing a big question: how did residents encounter and shape Ghana’s first “planned city” from 1900-70? In the process, I recover the city’s past as an assemblage of narratives oriented not around state visions, but the dynamic contours of everyday urban life.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African History; African Studies; Urban History


Research Programs

$33,600 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 8/31/2018