This book presents a new perspective on colonialism in Africa.
Drawing on work from a variety of subjects and disciplines - from
the ancient Mediterranean to colonial Spain, and from anthropology
to psychology - the author argues that colonialism in Africa needs
to be understood through the medium of writing and the particular
world it belonged to. Focusing on the LoDagaa of northern Ghana and
their relationship with British colonialism, Hawkins describes
colonialism as an encounter between a world of experience - a world
of knowledge, practice, and speech - and "the world on paper" - a
world of writing, rules, and a linear concept of history. The
various ways in which "the world on paper" affected the LoDagaa are
examined thematically. The first four chapters explore how writing
imposed a form of historical consciousness on different aspects of
LoDagaa culture - identity, politics, and religion - that was alien
to them. The second half of the book examines how both the British
colonial state and its postcolonial successor, the Ghanian state,
attempted to regulate indigenous forms of knowledge, gender
relations, and social reckoning through courts. This ambitious and
richly detailed book will appeal to scholars and general readers
interested in African history, British colonialism, and cultural
and postcolonial studies.
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