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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Reconsidering Ivor Wilks's 'Big Bang' theory of Akan history
Author:Pavanello, MarianoISNI
Periodical:Ghana Studies (ISSN 1536-5514)
Geographic term:Ghana
About person:Ivor Wilks (1928-2014)ISNI
Abstract:In this article, the author discusses Ivor Wilks's 'big bang' theory of Akan history in Ghana, particularly as it concerns the related hypothesis on the recent origin of matrilineal 'mmusua'. Wilks assumes that, between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Akan of the forest were protagonists of an extraordinary transition from a foraging economy to an agrarian system, and that matriclans originated in the sixteenth century together with the matrilineal ideology itself. The present author challenged Wilks's thesis in recent work, arguing that the transition hypothesized is not possible in a span of only two centuries. In this article, he makes reference to a set of questions concerning the historical implications of the widespread practice of cross-cousin marriage, and its assimilation to marriage with a slave woman: an intriguing terminological coincidence that can be recorded throughout all Akan groups, notwithstanding their differences in language and kinship terminologies. The author shows that this coincidence is not merely linguistic, but also deals with the historical process that moulded some of the basic features of Akan social and political organization. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]