The Making of the Everyday: A Study of Habits in Colonial Ghana (Gold Coast) during the Early Twentieth Century

Title: The Making of the Everyday: A Study of Habits in Colonial Ghana (Gold Coast) during the Early Twentieth Century
Authors: Moyes, Samantha
Date: 2014
Abstract: Everyday practice often goes unquestioned. Yet in Gold Coast society during the early twentieth century, everyday habits and practices served as an important device for both subalterns and elites to negotiate status or contest colonial control. Between 1900 and 1920, the Gold Coast was experiencing many changes that offered opportunities for actors to influence, negotiate, or contest emerging everyday habits and experiences. The monitoring and modification of everyday habits provided a way for the British colonial government to consolidate its rule in the Gold Coast following the period of military expansion in the late nineteenth century. For many Gold Coasters, increased access to education, the expansion of wage labour and the cocoa industry, led to a reconfiguration of social status and relations affecting daily life. While scholars are increasingly examining the theme of everyday practices, many tend to focus on the experiences of subaltern peoples. This study focuses instead on the role of an emerging, yet subjected, urban elite comprised of educated Africans. Caught between their understanding of African “tradition” and Western ideas of modernity, educated African elite attempted to influence everyday experiences and habits as a way to claim greater authority and enhance their position in the colony. Furthermore, this study examines how colonial administrators, too, used everyday habits and experiences to reinforce colonial governance in Gold Coast. In early twentieth century Gold Coast society, everyday habits and practices served as a battleground for contests for authority and influence as educated Africans and colonizers narrativized their own concepts of modernity and visions of the Gold Coast’s future in the pages of colonial reports, diaries, missionary correspondence, and Gold Coast newspapers. Using this and other primary source material, this thesis demonstrates how space, personhood, and food became important arenas through which various actors – African and European – vied to control, construct, and influence everyday habits and experiences in early twentieth century Gold Coast.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -