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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Kwame Nkrumah, African studies, and the politics of knowledge production in the Black Star of Africa
Author:Allman, Jean
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies (ISSN 0361-7882)
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:African studies
research centres
About person:Francis Nwia Kofie Nkrumah (1909-1972)ISNI
Abstract:This article turns a historical lens on postcolonial knowledge production about Africa in Ghana and two of Nkrumah's specific efforts to transform both scholarly and public understandings of African history and culture locally and globally: the Institute of African Studies and the 'Encyclopaedia Africana'. The article focusses on a moment in Nkrumah's Ghana, short-lived though it may have been, when it was at least possible to imagine forms of knowledge production about Africa that challenged colonial categories and the conventions of academic disciplines; that was Africa-centred, Africa-based, and globally engaged; that sought to transcend the politics of the Cold War and defy the hegemonic impulse of United States' racial politics. By nurturing the Pan-African aspirations of the 'Encyclopaedia Africana' and fostering the research agenda of the Institute of African Studies, which officially opened on 25 October 1963, Nkrumah and his government were instrumental in facilitating what might have been a seismic shift in the balance of power in the production of knowledge about Africa. On February 24, 1966, however, Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup. With the coup the 'Encyclopaedia Africana' project ended, and the Institute of African Studies was reorganized shortly afterwards. In the end, though the research and teaching missions of the Institute were greatly preserved, its role in generating knowledge and shaping knowledge production on a global stage was largely circumscribed and its pedagogical and research agendas shoehorned, if not disciplined, into a narrow nation-state university system. This effectively meant the end of African-centred postcolonial knowdledge production about Africa, as Nkrumah had visioned it. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]