This blog is associated with the Fall 2016 course for the African Democracy Project at Wayne State University. It provides a space to link student research projects through affiliated blogs, to share issues of contemporary significance, to explore themes of popular politics, democracy, and development in Ghana. Throughout the course, we interrogate what it means for politics to be “of the people” in Ghana. Students are encouraged to explore this question–and related questions about what politics, democracy, and development mean–through a number of subjects. We do that work together as a group, through class readings and conversations with visiting scholars. But students also do that through the process of research, during which they will use their experiences, exploration, and reading to contextualize a set of questions on this central theme.
Jennifer Hart is an Assistant Professor of African History at Wayne State University. Her research explores the social, cultural, political, and economic significance of the “mundane” or “everyday” experiences and practices of Africans. She has spent the last 10 years conducting research in Ghana (West Africa) and London. Most of that work has been focused in Accra, Ghana, where she has conducted archival and ethnographic research on the history of African automobility, urban planning, and development. Her forthcoming book, Ghana on the Go: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation, traces how different groups of Ghanaians shaped a distinct culture of automobility that reflected both the influence of foreign technological cultures and the socioeconomic priorities of African residents throughout the 20th century. You can follow her personal blog at www.ghanaonthego.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at @detroittoaccra. You can also follow her digital humanities project, which seeks to create an interactive map of the trotro system in Accra, Ghana, on Twitter at @accramobile.
Irvin D. Reid is President Emeritus, and Eugene Applebaum Distinguished Professor of Community Engagement at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He also direct the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS), which he created and ran before he left the presidency of Wayne. Under FOCIS, he along with two other faculty colleagues have initiated a documentary course entitled “Democracy in Africa” which initially focused on the presidential election in the Republic of Mozambique, but which has expanded to include Liberia, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, and Tanzania. You can learn more about Dr. Reid’s work at the FOCIS website or on his personal blog.
Andrew Hnatow is a PhD Candidate in the History Department at Wayne State University, where he specializes in urban, world, and modern US history. His research interests include urban and working-class history, deindustrialization and urban planning, progressive political and intellectual history, and the global 1960s. In addition to writing his dissertation, he teaches History of Detroit and is assisting in the Fall 2016 course of the African Democracy Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrew.hnatow.