Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2021
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Brown University
Gendered Mobilities: Faith, Belonging and Spatial Geographies of Returnee Women in Accra.

Since the early 2000s, many Ghanaian women who migrated abroad have come home. Their arrival is occurring at a time when Ghana finds itself in transition, as a new generation of women is contesting established social norms about gender, sexuality and religion. In national discourse, return-migrant women are sometimes depicted as a vanguard—for good or bad—in the country’s changing gendered political, cultural, and religious landscape. This project examines the lives of return-migrant women as they reintegrate into Accra, Ghana’s capital city. My study focuses not only on the experiences and practices of these women as they construct new modes of belonging, but also on the social consequences of their return. My research will document a critical period in Ghana’s history, as new forms of protest are emerging that challenge the gendered configuration of politics, culture, and religion. The growing relationships and exchanges between Ghanaian women in the diaspora and their sisters at home on the continent, constitute a fertile—and understudied—terrain in which these transformations are shaped. Through a 12-month ethnographic project, I will use interviewing and participant observation to look at the reintegration practices and experiences of returnee women. Their lives, and the wider reverberations of their return, will provide a revealing window onto contemporary Ghana’s fast-changing gendered landscape. The significance of my findings will extend beyond women’s individual lives, with implications for understanding new practices of religion and the emerging contours of national identity.