Shaping Tradition

Civil Society, Community and Development in Colonial Northern Ghana, 1899-1957


Author: Jeff Grischow
Using Northern Ghana as a case study, this book challenges the invocation of civil society as a tool for building community in the name of development. Far from equating civil society with community, colonial officials used the doctrine of community against African civil society. For colonial officers, civil society represented the corruption of authentic development, which could be avoided only by protecting traditional peasant communities in the face of economic transformation. The book charts this colonial program, from the creation of “native states” in the early twentieth century to an ambitious agricultural mechanisation scheme in the late 1940s. In its challenge to current writing on civil society, the study offers an important contribution to African history and development studies.

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Jeff D. Grischow, Ph.D. (1999) in History, Queen's University, Canada, is Asistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He has published on the history of development and disease in colonial Ghana.
'Grischow studies the work of the West African Lands Committee, the important governorship of Sir F. G. Guggisberg, and the subsequent implementation of indirect rule between 1932 and 1936. Ultimately, working through "chiefs" was found to promote neither economic growth nor social welfare, and after WWII, "local government" as the "preferred administrative framework for development" gradually replaced indirect rule.'
Summing Up: Highly recommended. CHOICE (August 2007)
All those interested in intellectual history, rural history, African history and International Development Studies.