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Title: The history of childhood in colonial Ghana, c.1900-57
Author: Lord, Jack
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 4688
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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Children in colonial Ghana lived through a unique kind of childhood, very different from anything observed in either pre-colonial Africa or the metropole. In pre-colonial Ghana, despite the importance for adults of child-bearing, children had a low social status, with few rights to balance their onerous obligations to their elders. But the relationship between children and adult society was - at least in theory - redefined by the colonial presence. Colonial modernity was increasingly perceived to be placing children in moral and physical danger. There was a greater imperative for childhoods to incorporate play and education and for the colonial state to safeguard adult society by protecting the welfare of individual children and reforming the delinquent young. The remainder of the thesis focuses on how these shifts were experienced by children themselves. The second part of the thesis examines the intellectual and emotional history of children. Children understood the colonial world very differently from adults. Children began to fear recognisably colonial institutions and authority figures but also to associate comfort and security with metropolitan material culture. Children had a sometimes acute awareness of imperial wealth and power and the relative weakness of the colony. But, simultaneously, children were largely apolitical because of their lack of experience and their intense focus on the present and the self. The final part of the thesis deals with the economics of childhood. Children were a valuable, if vulnerable, part of the colonial workforce. Child labour was used in new ways as economic and technological change created a raft of 'small jobs' for children to undertake. But, in a fundamental reassessment of the social purpose of child labour, the thesis argues that much of the work undertaken by children was 'accumulative' rather than exploitative. It was labour that bridged the gap between economic childhood and adulthood and allowed children to acquire tangible, human and social forms of capital.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral