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Jeffrey Scott Ahlman
Smith College (Northampton, MA 01063-6304)
History, Culture, and the Power of Postcolonial Afterlives of Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Leader of Ghana

Two months of field-work and archival research in Ghana for an ethnographic study on the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Ghana's first prime minister and president.

In death, few African politicians feature as prominently in their country’s and the continent’s political imaginings as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah. Viewed as an icon of African liberation, Nkrumah not only led Ghana to its 1957 independence, but, more importantly, linked Ghana’s fortunes to Africa’s at large. This project focuses on the decades following the Ghanaian president’s 1966 overthrow and 1972 death as it interrogates competing secular and spiritual worldviews that center a deceased, yet active Nkrumah in broader Ghanaian debates over the “spirit” and integrity of the postcolonial nation. In doing so, the project presents an ancestral Nkrumah as a vehicle for reflecting on Ghanaians’ changing relationships to a postcolonial reality marked by the passing of decolonization’s promises.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African History; African Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2016 – 11/30/2016