shopping_cart
Ohio University Press · Swallow Press · www.ohioswallow.com

Village Work
Development and Rural Statecraft in Twentieth-Century Ghana

By Alice Wiemers

A robust historical case study that demonstrates how village development became central to the rhetoric and practice of statecraft in rural Ghana.

Combining oral histories with decades of archival material, Village Work formulates a sweeping history of twentieth-century statecraft that centers on the daily work of rural people, local officials, and family networks, rather than on the national governments and large-scale plans that often dominate development stories. Wiemers shows that developmentalism was not simply created by governments and imposed on the governed; instead, it was jointly constructed through interactions between them.

The book contributes to the historiographies of development and statecraft in Africa and the Global South by

  • emphasizing the piecemeal, contingent, and largely improvised ways both development and the state are comprised and experienced
  • providing new entry points into longstanding discussions about developmental power and discourse
  • unsettling common ideas about how and by whom states are made
  • exposing the importance of unpaid labor in mediating relationships between governments and the governed
  • showing how state engagement could both exacerbate and disrupt inequities

Despite massive changes in twentieth-century political structures—the imposition and destruction of colonial rule, nationalist plans for pan-African solidarity and modernization, multiple military coups, and the rise of neoliberal austerity policies—unremunerated labor and demonstrations of local leadership have remained central tools by which rural Ghanaians have interacted with the state. Grounding its analysis of statecraft in decades of daily negotiations over budgets and bureaucracy, the book tells the stories of developers who decided how and where projects would be sited, of constituents who performed labor, and of a chief and his large cadre of educated children who met and shaped demands for local leaders. For a variety of actors, invoking “the village” became a convenient way to allocate or attract limited resources, to highlight or downplay struggles over power, and to forge national and international networks.

Alice Wiemers is an assistant professor of history at Davidson College. Her work has appeared in the Journal of African History, World Development, and International Labor and Working-Class History.   More info →

Order a print copy

Hardcover available May 28, 2021.
Cover of Village Work

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon

Requests

Review Copy

This book is not yet available for desk or examination copy requests. Please check back soon.

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Formats

Hardcover
978-0-8214-2445-2
Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: May 2021
4 illus. · 250 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Electronic
978-0-8214-4737-6
Release date: May 2021
4 illus. · 250 pages
Rights:  World

Related Titles

Cover of 'Seeing Like a Citizen'

Seeing Like a Citizen
Decolonization, Development, and the Making of Kenya, 1945–1980
By Kara Moskowitz

In focusing on rural Kenyans as they actively sought access to aid, Moskowitz offers new insights into the texture of political life in the decolonizing and early postcolonial world. Her account complicates our understanding of Kenyan experiences of independence, and the meaning and form of development.

African History · Business & Economics | Development Studies · Colonialism and Decolonization · Kenya · African Studies

Cover of 'Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development'

Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development
Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007
By Allen F. Isaacman and Barbara S. Isaacman

This in-depth study of the Zambezi River Valley examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the Cahora Bassa Dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.

African History · Environmental Policy · Colonialism and Decolonization · Social History · Environmental History · African Studies · Mozambique

Cover of 'Triumph of the Expert'

Triumph of the Expert
Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism
By Joseph Morgan Hodge

Triumph of the Expert is a history of British colonial policy and thinking and its contribution to the emergence of rural development and environmental policies in the late colonial and postcolonial period. Joseph Morgan Hodge examines the way that development as a framework of ideas and institutional practices emerged out of the strategic engagement between science and the state at the climax of the British Empire.

African History · Environmental History · African Studies · History · Environmental Policy · Colonialism and Decolonization

Sign up to be notified when new African Studies titles come out.

We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.