Fall 2021 | Spring 2022

The second edition of The Africa Institute’s annual country-focused program—an annual initiative exploring one African country or African diaspora community through a range of scholarly and public programs—will be presented in Sharjah, UAE and Accra, Ghana in 2021-22, convened by leading scholars Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Jean Allman, Carina Ray, and Joseph Oduro-Frimpong.

Global Ghana will include a two-part interdisciplinary scholarly conference beginning with Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return held in Sharjah, followed by Global Ghana: In Search of Africa’s Black Star, held in Ghana. The multidisciplinary program will also include a film festival, a series of musical performances, a staged theatrical performance, and an exhibition showcasing dynamic work by contemporary Ghanaian artists. The season will be launched with a keynote lecture and press conference in Fall 2021, followed by a musical concert featuring an eclectic mix of popular Ghanaian musicians.

The Africa Institute’s Ghana-focused season aims to critically and creatively engage Ghana’s history and contemporary condition. Pushing beyond conventional narratives that oversimplify the nation’s profound significance to its citizens, continental neighbors, and the larger African diaspora, the season seeks to reveal the complex and contested forces that have shaped Ghana, past and present.

Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return
Sharjah, UAE | Spring 2022

The first part of the two-part program Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return, held in Sharjah in Spring 2022, will examine the ways in which Ghana has emerged over the last century as a focal point of diasporic engagement beginning with early 20th-century ‘Back to Africa’ movements, followed by Pan-Africanism, anticolonial liberation movements, and more recently, with heritage tourism. One of the focal points of the conference will be Ghana’s efforts to cultivate and curate diasporic engagement among African-descended people in the diaspora and Ghanaians living abroad through the recent “Year of Return” and “Beyond the Return” campaigns.

The season will push beyond Ghana’s Atlantic world connections to open a wider field of enquiry about Ghana’s relations with the Arab world, and examinations of the past, present, and future of Afro-Arab relations. Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return seeks to welcome and engage audiences in Sharjah and throughout the UAE with compelling and thoughtfully developed dialogue.

Global Ghana: In Search of Africa’s Black Star
Accra, Ghana | Spring 2022

Held in Ghana, Global Ghana: In Search of Africa’s Black Star will explore the multiplicity of meanings that have been and continue to be invested in Ghana as a beacon of African emancipation, African unity, and continental innovation. The program aims to eschew racially essentialist interpretations of the Black Star in favor of diverse perspectives informed by Ghana’s complex history from Ghana’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries to its place as one of the most significant sites for Afro-Arab solidarity in the 20th century. Deep historical perspectives will inform the program’s consideration of how younger generations in Ghana today are reimagining what and who constitutes the Black Star nation and its possible futures through a range of different media, including visual and performing arts. To this end, the two-part scholarly conference will be complemented by a dynamic range of musical, theatrical, and film performances and an exhibition of contemporary Ghanaian art. Additional information on the participants and schedule for Global Ghana: Sites of Departure/Sites of Return and Global Ghana: In Search of Africa’s Black Star will be announced in the coming months. The health and safety of guests and participants are of utmost priority to The Africa Institute. The Institute will continue to monitor developments on COVID-19 and the program will be subject to modification depending on how the pandemic evolves and travel is impacted.

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