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CSPS seminar_Alice Wiemers

CSPS Seminar: Local development in Northern Ghana

The "local turn" in devleopment planning is often traced to the late 1990s and 2000s. However, governments in Ghana made village-level projects a cornerstone of rural governance throughout the twentieth centure, particularly in regions considerd remote. Drawing on archival and oral historical research conducted in northern Ghana, the presentation traces this longer history in two ways. First, it shows how, despite decades of changing development philosophy and policy, Ghanaian states have continued to construct village-level development programes that are unevenly distributed and rely on unpaid rural labour. Second, drawing on particular examples, it shows how Ghanaians have engated createively with village projects, using their labour and long-term experience to contest, capitalize on, and reshape the meanings of local development. 

Dr. Alice Wiemers is an Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Davidson College, North Carolina, USA. Her historical research focuses on how Ghanaians navigate economic and development policy through local, national, and global networks. The presentation draws from her recent book, Village Work: Development and Rural Statecraft in Twentieth-Century Ghana (Ohio University Press, 2021). She is currently beginning a new project on the intellectual and social history of Ghanaian policymaking at the intersection of Cold War transnationalism and the start of the neoliberal era.