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Title:Abusua, age, and nation building in postcolonial Ghana, 1949-2000
Author(s):Jones-Nelson, Alice
Director of Research:Allman, Jean M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Allman, Jean M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Crummey, Donald E.; Todorova, Maria N.; Barnes, Teresa A.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
extended family
intergenerational relations
national values
Social Security
socio-economic development
nation building
population policy
Nkrumah, Kwame
Volta River Project
family planning
Abstract:Focused on public encounters between the institutions of nation and family, this study asks how state agendas in Ghana—amid transitions from colonial oversight to independence influenced, absorbed, reflected, or deflected widespread social values and practices. Governmental vision that targeted fiscal and political solutions, scientific and technological advances, age-based programs, and regulation of population growth to improve quality of life in Ghana spurred public discourse on what it meant or should mean to be Ghanaian. When the Akan term abusua—extended family—entered that discourse, its usage expanded from reference to specific genealogical and sociopolitical constructions to broader definitions with applicability to non-Akan groups. During the late twentieth century, efforts of the central government to steer the country in accordance with political or economic objectives did not succeed in fundamentally changing societal priorities and demonstrated preferences in matters dealing with family, intergenerational relations, and community support. Following the advent of Ghanaian independence, individuals and organizations pointed to the extended family as an ideal—a model for fostering unity through interdependence—and to standards and customs associated with that ideal as vital components of the national character. Instead of government planning, pronouncements, and policies as ultimate conveyors of a national identity, the extended family and community support system emerged as a wellspring of national values by the start of the twenty-first century. Historical fieldwork in Ghana encompassed national and regional archives, speeches and published statements, development plans and budgets, government correspondence and communiqués, legislation, demographic data, news articles and commentaries, Cabinet minutes, records of non-government organizations, conference and unpublished papers, and oral histories of residents who experienced the administrations of colonial governors and heads of state in independent Ghana, from Kwame Nkrumah, the first President, to Jerry J. Rawlings.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Alice Christine Jones-Nelson
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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