An Archive of Activism: gender and public history in postcolonial Ghana

The Archive of Activism project ran from September 2018 to February 2022. It was funded by the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme, which was in turn supported by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

Run as a collaboration between Dr Kate Skinner (Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham) and Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana), the Archive of Activism project focused on the organising and campaigning strategies of Ghanaian women under military, single-party, and multi-party governments between the mid 1960s and the early 1990s. During this time, Ghanaian women negotiated national priorities, cultural particularities, and universalist ambitions, both at home and as part of a wider international women’s movement.

To explore this hitherto under-studied period in Ghana’s history, and increase public understanding of the roles played by women, the project hired a postdoctoral research assistant (Dr Jovia Salifu) and a film crew (directed by Aseye Tamakloe) and worked closely with a civil society partner (Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, Abantu-for-Development). Combining oral history interviews with newspaper analysis and archival research in repositories in Ghana, the UK, and the US, the project produced a series of outputs including a free-to-view documentary film titled ‘When Women Speak’, which you can access here. The film was screened at multiple international film festivals, as well as at a series of public events and workshops with stakeholders in Ghana.