Bianca Murillo Speaks about Ghana at UCSB

13 04 2009

BIANCA MURILLO, “The Politics of Consumption in the Gold Coast/Ghana, 1930-75″
Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 12:30 pm
Feminist Studies Seminar Room (4631 South Hall)

Bianca Murillo is completing her dissertation and will give a talk based on her extensive research — it’s her practice job talk, so come and support her.

[Dissertation Abstract]
“The Politics of Consumption in the Gold Coast/Ghana, 1930-75″
This dissertation explores the politics of consumption in the Gold  Coast/ Ghana from 1930-75, a period that encompasses British  colonialism, rapid urbanization, political independence, military  rule, and severe economic decline. By ?politics,? I refer not only to  the conflicts over power and authority that surround access to goods  and control over systems of distribution, but also the regulation of  consumer practices and the organization of consumer space. Drawing  upon both archival and oral research, this project examines how  shifting relationships between foreign capital, colonial/postcolonial  governments and groups of African retailers and consumers shaped these  processes. It argues that efforts to construct and control Ghanaian  markets by the colonial state and foreign capitalists were limited by  deep-rooted critiques of the colonial economy and trading policies, as  well as cultural understandings of wealth and accumulation. After WWII  these issues came to head as Africans used their identities as consumers to assert economic and political rights. After independence  in 1957, the country?s first Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah linked  ideologies of consumerism to notions of freedom, equality,  modernization, and development. He hoped that a flourishing consumer  society, among other things, would help legitimize Ghana as a new  independent nation. In the late 1960s, a declining economy,  outstanding foreign debts, and increased militarization of the state  challenged these ideas. Government-imposed import and price controls  echoed colonial attempts to control the market. Coercive state  measures fueled and increased black market trading and the public  created their own marketing system or what other scholars have described as a ?beat-the-system? economy.

This talk is organized by the RFG African Studies and co-sponsored by Feminist Studies and History.


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