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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Toward a New Understanding of Akan Origins
Author:Klein, A. Norman
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Ghana
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1161318
Abstract:This article proposes a new strategy for thinking about Akan origins which focuses on other kinds of evidence than written documents and oral tradition. The new strategy involves the construction of a fresh chronology based on archaeological data from southern Ghana and biomedical material from the disease history of human populations. The former suggest that agriculturalists have lived in the Akan forest for millennia. The latter suggests that they spent more than a millennium adapting to the mortality and morbidity of malarial infection. Later, when the Akan were exposed to Eurasian diseases simultaneously with slave raiding and social dislocation, they responded by demographic clustering which exacerbated the threat of epidemic. The first part of the article discusses the transition from hunting and gathering to a way of life based on agriculture in the forest. The second part examines how, as West Africans responded to European 'contact' from the 15th to the 17th centuries, they developed a settlement pattern of clustering. It was during this period, when refugees were being incorporated into forest communities in large numbers, including slave women brought in as reproducers, that the tradition of outsiders falsifying Akan genealogies probably became widespread and thus helped ensure the social reproduction of Akan lineages. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French.