Coloniality, Extraction, and Sovereignty in Ghana, 1471-2021

Jemima Pierre
African American Studies, Anthropology
UC Los Angeles

This book project is a longitudinal study of the political economy of natural resource exploitation and extraction in Ghana, West Africa, as a means to examine questions of African sovereignty and self-determination. At the center of its investigation is the idea of the “coloniality of power,” a phrase that Anibal Quijano (2000) deploys to help us understand how, in the postcolonial era, there is a continuity of colonial forms and structures of domination. Because Africa’s raw materials were key to European conquest and colonial exploitation, and because access to these materials continues to be the site upon which the struggle for African self-determination is waged, analysis of the impact of the commodification and exploitation of natural resources in Ghana is necessary. This project brings together the histories of four commodities that have underpinned both Ghana’s insertion into and maintenance of the global capitalist system: (human) bodies, gold, cocoa, and oil. The relational histories of these commodities show us how the coloniality of power indexes both the production of racialized and gendered difference and the making of unequal geographies of production – with Africa as the ultimate site of accumulation, disinvestment, and dispossession.