Veit Arlt: Christianity and Culture on the Southern Gold Coast. The Appropriation of Global Processes in the two Krobo States ca. 1860 - 1918

PhD-thesis, Institute of History, University of Basel (2005)

This study is concerned with cultural change in south-eastern Ghana during the colonial period. It examines how the two Krobo states negotiated their dramatic economic and territorial expansion in terms of culture from c. 1830-1930; how they remember their erstwhile settlement on Krobo Mountain and the abandonment of these homesteads; how they coped with the abolition of their national centre and recreated it in their principal farm settlements; how they dealt with and circumvented the prohibition of their principal cults and reinvented new festivals; and how today they mobilise their cultural and historical heritage in the context of ‘development’. While the abolition of the national centre and the principal rites of the Krobo is remembered as an act of colonial violence motivated amongst others by a ‘civilising mission’, the thesis argues that the Krobo themselves initiated this intervention in order to achieve the dramatic expansion and negotiate the necessary political transformation. The Krobo did not merely react or respond to external factors such as colonialism and mission. Rather, they actively drew on them (but also on the culture of the neighbouring Akan states) as resources in order to achieve internal transformations and expand their economy and territory. This explains why today mission and church can be considered part of Krobo tradition. The thesis traces these transformations by looking at ritual, ceremony and dress and by making extensive use of missionary sources combined with documents from the colonial administration and oral history.


Veit Arlt, Dr phil
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