Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, History and Political Science, The College of Saint Rose

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2001
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Minnesota / Twin Cities
Migration, Ethnicity, and Uneven-development in Ghana: The Case of the Upper West Region, 1887 to the Present

Labor migration has long captured the attention of African state officials and scholars alike since the 1940s. Few scholars of West African history, however, have sought to understand the connections between labor migration, uneven-development and ethnogenesis as imbricated social processes. The Upper West Region of Ghana has served as a labor reservoir for the southern part of the country for most of the twentieth century and today one can find at least three generations of migrants in any given village/town whose experiences both mirror and differ substantially from migrants in other parts of Africa. Attempts to explain this phenomenon have always centered on theories of overpopulation, land shortage, taxation, lack of resources, and "bright lights," which compelled northerners to migrate to the south in search of wage labor. These explanations are based on a static, normative vision of the lone twentieth century male migrant worker traveling south in search of wage labor that has no pre-colonial precedents and has not changed in over one hundred years. By shifting the angle of vision from a set of ahistorical push/pull factors, I seek to foreground the internal ways in which communities themselves shaped migration through extended, gendered social debates over production and reproduction and explore the ways in which this long story of labor migration is implicated in two simultaneous processes: the construction of ethnic identities in the North, (Dagaaba identity), and the uneven-development of the region vis-a-vis the South.